Often when people are asked to deliver a speech or a presentation, they will start their preparation with the question “What do I want to say?” However, this is the completely wrong place to begin because a presentation is never about you and what you want to say. Rather you must focus on your audience first. The reason? If you don’t know who your audience is you won’t be able to craft content that will meet their needs or effectively deliver it to them.
Therefore, before you do any preparation, here is a list of questions to ask yourself and the person who has requested you to speak:
- Why have I been asked to speak – to inspire, inform, motivate, persuade, entertain, etc?
- What is the impact/outcome they are expecting?
- How will I/they know whether the desired outcome has been achieved?
- Is there a theme for the event?
- Who has spoken at this event/about this topic before and what did the audience like or dislike about them?
- What challenges is the organisation/audience facing right now?
- Will there be any ‘elephants in the room’ I should know about?
- How many people will be attending?
- What is their age, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, religion, primary language, educational level, profession?
- What do they believe?
- What are their interests?
- Why are they attending the presentation?
- Do they know why they are attending the presentation?
- Is their attendance voluntary or mandatory?
- What are they expecting to hear?
- How do they feel about what they are expecting to hear?
- What role or position do audience members hold?
- What is their level of knowledge about the topic?
- What do they know and what do they need to know?
- Do they know the jargon / technical terms you may use?
- Is the audience familiar with you and your role?
- Do they know why you are presenting to them?
- What assumptions are you making about your audience?
- What is the main purpose of your presentation/what is the single message they will take away?
- What do you want your audience to think, feel or do as a result of this presentation?
Not all of the questions mentioned above will be relevant for every situation; however, the more you can find out about your audience before you present to them, the more effective and successful your presentation will be. And who doesn’t want to deliver a successful presentation?
Mel Sherwood empowers ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to communicate with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, a company dedicated to providing the seeds to speaking success.
Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s inspiring talks, masterclasses and coaching programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential