Too many presentations are boring. Why? Because they focus on topics that are irrelevant or unimportant to you, the audience. Presenters sometimes feel that they or their company are the star of the show. Others feel that their slides are the highlight. These are misguided. The true focus of every presentation must be the audience. In fact, “It’s All About Your Audience” — the topic of my latest Toward Humanity blog post. (Or download the PDF.)
Okay, so the last presentation you attended wasn’t so bad. The information was important to you. This is a step in the right direction, but did the presenter leave it up to you to make the connection between the materials and why it matters to you. Before you present, you must know the needs of your audience, and then address them.
I just returned from travelling in a European country with my family. Okay, so it was England, and while we are American and they do speak English, it’s the King’s English, so while we understood the language, we did not always understand what it meant.
When we wanted the elevator, we asked for the lift. A rest room? The toilet. Or the gents or ladies. Or the loo. The ATM? A cashpoint. The subway? That’s the tube or the underground (with signage extremely well marked and clear—we never took the wrong train nor the wrong direction). Chips? Well, they are French fries; potato chips are crisps. You get the point.
The British drive on the left side of the road, and while we didn’t hire (rent) a car, we experienced this anomaly in another way; people keep to the left when walking on sidewalks. Took a few crashes before we got that. And finally, on escalators, you stand on the right and pass on the left. Best move over to not get trod on.
So, we had to educate ourselves a bit about their vocabulary and their culture to follow their ways, because in a sense, the British were our audience. And as we have seen in the previous article, it is all about your audience.