Your audience

The secret ingredient in any presentation is Your Audience. Don’t forget to ask these essential questions to be sure you don’t fail before you’ve even started to speak.


Phil: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Business Presentation Revolution, your double espresso of presentation know-how.

Rose: [00:00:05] This episode is all about the magic ingredient in any presentation: Your Audience.

Phil: [00:00:12] So Rose, when I ask people what they hate most about presentations, one thing that comes up all the time is that they hate it when they’re receiving a standard presentation, which just doesn’t seem like it is suited to that audience.

Rose: [00:00:27] Exactly, Phil. I often think of it like Christmas. So think of your presentation like a gift. Imagine you’re at Christmas and you’re opening your gift and it’s beautiful. You pull off the bow and you look around and at the same time you all pull out… the same pair of socks. And you realize, “Mom, you probably could have done better than all of us having the same pair of socks.”

Rose: [00:00:49] Maybe when you’re giving gifts you think about what would actually mean something to your grandmother and what would actually mean something to your kids. And maybe it’s not “the socks.” So Phil, we have some methodology we use at Ideas on Stage that helps us think about the necessary questions to prepare a presentation for an audience. Can you tell us about that?

Phil: [00:01:08] Absolutely Rose. So we always start with the ABC. Audience. Burning need. Context. It’s the first step. It’s so important. And most presenters don’t do it. So first off: who is your audience? And you need to get to know your audience beyond simply the title on their business card. Who are they really? I had one chief executive who came to me for example for help with a presentation at a conference and I asked him, “So, who’s in the audience?” And he said, “I don’t know.” And I said, “OK well come back when you do because I can’t help you to prepare a successful presentation if we don’t know who the audience is.” Because the audience is the magic ingredient. So the second part then is the burning need.

Rose: [00:01:53] Oh yes. Your example makes me think. I was working with someone the other day as well and I asked, “So, when you’re preparing this presentation, what is your team expecting from you in the presentation? Do they need to know numbers? Do they need some moral support? Do they need some reassurance?” I looked at him: “[he said] I don’t know.” Same thing. I said, “Okay can you find out? Because this is what’s going to guide you in preparing an effective presentation.” What are their needs from you? Of course, what is your objective? But what are they expecting?

Phil: [00:02:27] Yes, you’ve always got to start from where they are. That’s vital. So often when we’re doing the ABC with a client they will find that they actually ****don’t know some of this information, but they know that they need to find it out. Sometimes it’s just asking the right questions. So the “C” then is for context. This is all about how long the presentation is supposed to be. Will there be questions and answers afterwards? Is there somebody else presenting before? If so, what are they presenting? Is there someone presenting afterwards? What time of day is it going to be? For example, is it first thing in the morning? Which is good for getting people to really understand things. Is it first thing in the afternoon? In which case, good luck… All of these things: the technology you have available. Do you have a projector? Do you have sound? Lots of different questions that will help you to understand the context. It’s also your audience’s business context: is their business going well? Is it not going well? Where are they in the financial cycle? In the sales context: do they already have a supplier? Do they already work with you? All of these things you need to know. And you’ll find that when you’re doing the ABC it’s always just asking the simple but really important questions. And it’s the five most important minutes that you can ever spend when preparing a presentation.

Rose: [00:03:45] Excellent Phil. When is this presentation going to happen? Who is it with? I completely agree. So remember: this is not your presentation, it’s theirs. The magic ingredient in any presentation is: the Audience. Make sure it’s the magic ingredient in your presentation.

Phil: [00:04:06] Thanks for joining The Business Presentation Revolution. We’ve got so much more to share. So please subscribe to our YouTube channel or wherever you get your podcasts. Share this with your colleagues. Send us your comments and questions and we’ll see you next time.