Begin Any Presentation by Researching the Wants, Goals & Needs of Your Audience – Part 1

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Your presentation is clearly from you. There is no doubt about that but it’s for your audience.
Now what do you know about your audience. Do you know them well enough? And if you don’t know them. How would you go by researching them? There are two methodologies.
The first one: if you have a small group you can wear your Sherlock Holmes costume and start investigating. How would you do that?
Online! You can go to the company website. You can go to SlideShare and find a company presentations. You can research the company blog or even read articles in the press about the people in the companies that you’re going to meet. And you can also go on social media like on Twitter and LinkedIn. But don’t be creepy. Don’t don’t stalk people on Facebook or Instagram.
The second method involves larger groups. In this case you cannot research single individuals or companies.
What you can do is develop personas: imagine the type of individuals that are in your audience.
Let’s make an example: you go to a business conference and this business conference is attended by people in marketing and in sales. In this case you would have two personas one representing marketing and one representing sales.
Now let’s give them a name, let’s make them a person in a way. Let’s give them a back story. Why did they choose marketing or sales? What did they do before? What kind of aspirations do they have right now? Give them a personality finally because they will need to speak to you later.
Imagine that you were one of those people and this is not not very easy because you have to change your perspective. From you looking at the room, to the room looking at you. You have to impersonate a member of your audience. In other words you have to put yourself in their shoes… but other people’s shoes are not so comfortable at all times.
So let’s learn a technique that will help us put where those shoes. Your audience has wants: they have the desire to get informed they want to get inspired they want to evaluate you or evaluate your idea.
During the course of your presentation, your audience also has life goals. They have overarching goals that are not related to your presentation, but they are always relevant in their life. They want to become more skilled, they want to advance their career, they want to grow their business.
Your audience has stakes. They have made investments in the past and these investments are something that they always keep in mind. They have invested in their growth personal or professional and this is what’s at stake in their lives.
And your audience has tactical reasons to be there. Maybe someone sent them and told them attend this conference. Or they chose to be there and maybe they paid a high price tag to attend that conference. Or they just happened to be there.
They stumble upon your presentation… but you also have wants: you have something that you want to get by the end of the presentation. You have your own goals. Be them professional or personal. You have some stakes. You have investments you made in the past and you have reasons to do your presentation.
Now you should write them down. How? Using the user stories: try to write down all the wants of your audience of every persona of your audience as a story.
Write down “as an audience member I want” and then what the audience member would want. Same thing in terms of goals “as an audience member my goals are”. In terms of stakes “as an audience member my stakes are in” and finally in terms of reasons “ss an audience member I’m attending because”.
Do this for each of the persons or each of the personas who are going to be in the room with you now. List your own wants, goals, stakes and reasons and what you’ll end up with is two lists. These two lists may be completely divergent and you may have wants and goals and stakes and reason that are completely unrelated. You have to reconcile those lists and you have to follow some rules to reconcile those lists. First of all if your wants and goals diverge that’s a problem because you have to realign them.
And if no goal matches, you have to give priority to your audience over your own goals and this can be counterintuitive. You have to create benefits in the areas that are at stake for you and your audience. And you have to keep an eye on the outcomes.
What are your reasons to do the presentation and what is your desired outcome?
Now to the hard stuff: lay out your material and look at it with your audience’s eyes. Listen to your words, listen to your language with the ears of your audience. How does that language feel? Does it feel connected to the world of your audience. How do they see your visuals? Do they see the same things you see in your pictures, in your pie charts, in your icons? How do they relate to the overall style of your presentation?
Boom. If you have done all of this correctly there shouldn’t be one single slide of your presentation left standing. This process changes everything and gives you a fantastic blank slate where you know exactly how to nail your goals and the goals of your audience. How to satisfy all the wants and keep in mind all the stakes while knowing all the reasons.
To summarize in this process change your perspective. It’s crucial to investigate your audience or create some personas. Then understand the wants, goals, stakes and reasons reconcile them with yours. And look at your material with their eyes.


‣ Change your perspective.
‣ Investigate your audience or create some personas.
‣ Understand the wants, goals, stakes, and reasons.
‣ Reconcile them with yours.
‣ And look at your material with their eyes.

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