By Michele Trent
Public Speaking Coach
WHAT DO YOU do when you are asked to give a business presentation to a group? Do you calmly say “yes” and then jump up and down internally with excitement? Or perhaps you calmly say “yes” and then your stomach drops and the chills begin. You dread that day on the calendar and chastise yourself for agreeing to speak in the first place. Or perhaps you are in between those two extremes. You feel OK about presenting but you feel like you don’t have time to put something together that is good. You resolve to just “wing it.” After all, who knows your business or your role in the company better than you do? Well, likely no one.
However, unless you are a fabulously skilled presenter who can organize your thoughts on the fly, you should give time and attention to put together your remarks. Speaking in front of an audience is a privilege. Connecting face-to-face is powerful and when all eyes are on you, you want to be ready. You want to ensure that those who come to hear you speak feel like the time or money they spent was well worth it.
There are many things to consider as you prepare for a presentation. For purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on one – the audience. As you sit down to think through your presentation, you should first consider who your audience is. What do you know about them? What are their needs? What might they fear? What victories of theirs can you reinforce? What do they already know about the subject matter? What is it the audience needs to know the most.
Just thinking through these questions will give you all kinds of intelligence you can incorporate in your remarks. Think back to a time when you heard a powerful speaker whom really connected with you. You probably felt as though they were speaking right to you. What made it seem this way? Most likely, that speaker did their due diligence. They understood who would be in the audience and they crafted their remarks accordingly. It is not a coincidence that the speaker connected with you. Nope. It is because they did their homework and understood who you were. You can do the same.
Craft your remarks with your audience in mind. It sounds so simple and yet it means so much. What if you don’t know who’s going to be in your audience? Put on your detective hat and find out. Who invited you to speak? Ask them about the audience. Does this group meet regularly? If so, try and visit a meeting prior to the one when you are the featured speaker. How about a survey? Can you send something in advance with a few relevant questions? Let your contact know that you want to customize your remarks and ask if they would be willing to send out a short survey on your behalf. Incorporate your learnings into your presentation. Is there any information online about the group? What can you learn from their online presence?
Connecting with Your Audience
As you learn more about your audience, your confidence will grow. What was unknown and perhaps scary becomes more known and comfortable. Instead of “winging it” and maybe connecting with a few people in a haphazard way, draft your content in terms of your audience and increase your chance of connection. Your audience will know that you care about them when they hear content that is meaningful to them, shared in a relatable way.
When it comes to making a presentation, don’t “wing it.” Instead, “nail it!”
Need help to prepare for your upcoming business presentation? Check out our 1-on-1 personal coaching packages.