Recon Question 3: Who will my audience be?

Sun Tzu Principle: “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

Have you ever turned up to deliver a presentation or a speech and you hadn’t done at least an inquiry as to who the audience would be? I did. That’s one mistake I won’t make again.

We’ve been talking about the importance of doing reconnaissance before delivering a message to an audience. I failed to do this. My message had wrongly aligned examples, not relevant to that audience. I lost them with my supporting slides because the examples simply did not make sense to them.

Here’s a quote from Ken Haemer, former AT&T presentation research manager… it really makes sense… check it out… “Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it ‘to whom it may concern.”

If you have any hope of winning the battle of public speaking, you have to know who your ‘love letter’ is going to… not just ‘to whom it may concern.’

It starts with researching your audience helps you address their needs and interests. This work also has the likely benefit of making you more comfortable. Just like in any conversation, it helps if you know who you are talking to.

I always like to know things like, the different age groups, ethnic and gender mixes in the audience. Am I speaking to a group who all have a similar knowledge base or is it a multi-disciplined audience? Is it made up of just a few, or is it a large audience?

Here’s the action point for today…

Get in touch with the organiser or sponsor of the meeting or event and find out the level of knowledge the audience has on the topic you are speaking on. Ask about the audience expectations as well as their demographics–age, background, gender, etc.

If you are speaking at an industry event, research the event website and familiarise yourself with the mission of the event and typical attendees.

If you are speaking to a business, then learn as much as you can about that business by visiting their website, reading news reports, and reviewing their blogs.

Sun Tzu said “The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

Learn from this… make your calculations before the battle is even fought. You will walk up to the podium with more clarity, confidence, and control… and this is the holy grail of public speaking… clarity, confidence, and control.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

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