How to understand your audience’s reactions

Written by Matteo Cassese

Transformation in presentations is very dear to me. But I still don’t know if I’ve been able to charge you with my passion and change your point of view with my previous post about transformation. I would be curious to hear your thoughts in this regards.

If I were you, I’d make sure the core transformation was very clear before I set off creating my next presentation because this transformation immediately encounters a force that you need to be aware of.

What is this mysterious force? I’ll tell you in a second. But first let’s look at this icon from my course.

I use this image to explain that your audience is not just made of squares that need to be transformed into circles. Your audience is made of all sorts of individuals with their own personal “shape.”

Together with their own shape they carry their own personal resistance: a resistance to change, a resistance to you and to your material. This is the force that opposes the core transformation.

Presentations exist in that space between the presenter’s desire to change the audience and the audience resisting that change.

As the presenter you try to provide value, but your audience members will react to it in their own individual way, and every audience member has the right to do so. As the presenter, you are not allowed to judge those reactions.

Think of it this way: a presentation is an “interruption” in the lives of your audience. Plus, they are passive subjects to your delivery. The one thing they have the right to do actively is evaluate, judge and react. Respect that reaction and allow them to have it. It’s not your job to control their reaction. It’s your job to speak to it and still transform the listener, each individual one, with the value you are providing.

And it's fine

So what is your objective now? Is it still to transform everyone in a circle? I certainly hope not.

Your job is to understand your audience and provide something to each person at the right time. You should win your audience bit by bit, person by person, making as many people as possible “open” to your idea, to your content, and to the feeling you are conveying.

You will never win 100% of your audience. And you will never win all of your supporters at the same time. The process of winning over your audience is progressive and slow.

At this point, each slide, each talking point of your presentation gains a new meaning. They are all tools to two interconnected ends: they need to break through the resistance of your audience and bring about a transformation. They need to talk to the audience as a group, but also to the single individuals that form that group.

Makes sense?

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Credits: Icon created by Daniel Hug from The Noun Project

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Who is Matteo Cassese?

Hi! I’m a marketing consultant and an enthusiastic entrepreneur with experience working for multinational companies (Warner Bros.), teaching at a university (Link Campus University), and consulting for entertainment companies (Netflix). I’m a scholar of storytelling and have dug deep into screenwriting techniques, mythology, and trans-media narratives. This passion is translated in the simple structure template that you get in all my courses. In my free time I enjoy driving cars (fast).

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