Presentation Skills: What Does "Know Your Audience" Mean?

by Gilda Bonanno
When you give a presentation, it is important to “know your audience” – but what does that mean?

In order to tailor your presentation to the audience and make it easier for them to follow, you have to understand as much as you can about their background, how they like to receive information and what questions they might have.

If you know the people you’re presenting to and have presented to them before,  that can make it easier because you know what they’re interested in and what questions they might ask. 

But if you’re presenting to a group of people that you don’t know, such as colleagues from different parts of the business or remote customers, you may not have a lot of specific information about them.

Do what you can to research and gather data about them. Talk to people who have presented to this audience before. For example, talk to your customer service staff and ask about some of the issues that come up.  Talk the sales people to get an insight into what’s important to these customers.

Talk to a few of the audience members yourself.  Explain that you are preparing your presentation and ask what questions they have or what they’d like to know about your topic.

If you research your audience, to the extent possible, you will be in a better position to customize your presentation so they remain interested and engaged.
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