I had the good fortune to read a survey question recently that asked “if the speaker had stayed on agenda and met his goal”. I say good fortune in the same sense that Jay Leno used to refer to his good fortune after certain political figures spoke in public. You may ask yourself (or e-mail me, if you must) why I thought that was good fortune? Here’s the FAQ: it was good fortune for me because it ties into my theme for this post – Know your Audience.
Where’s the connection, you ask? If you re-read the survey question above, you’ll notice that the speaker’s concern was for their own goals, not the needs/wants of the audience. Put another way, when you hear someone give a presentation, do you say to yourself “I hope they say what they came to say”, or are you thinking “I hope this is worth my time”? You may not word it precisely the same, but I bet you’re thinking the second one more often than the first.
Knowing the Audience is critical for any expert when preparing to speak to any size group. You may have learned about the importance of knowing what you’re going to say, but that shouldn’t really be your main goal. Taking the time to determine what your audience needs to hear should be your first order of business. You can use a variety of methods, such as interviews, talking to the meeting planner, and even your own personal experience.
There’s an amazing side effect to knowing your audience: you’ll be for comfortable and you’ll be seen as more professional and better prepared that other speakers. It’s all about solving that need your audience has. As I mentioned above “Is it worth my time?” is a question asked by every audience member, even if only in their own minds. Your mission is to make the answer “Yes!”
This first concept of knowing your audience will get a lot more coverage in coming posts. Stay tuned…