You've likely heard the adage that every audience member is tuned to one radio station: WIIFM, which stands for "What's In It For Me." When a presenter is not 'tuned' to WIIFM and fails to address what's important to the audience, his or her words are like static on the radio--noise with no meaning. This causes potential listeners to tune out. Conversely, when you invest the time and effort to know your audience, discover their needs and interests, and talk to them about themselves, they "will listen for hours." As you prepare your next presentation, here are five critical questions to ask about your listeners:
1. Who are they? Connecting with your audience means understanding them on a professional and personal level. Find out their names, roles, titles, responsibilities, and day-to-day work activities. Find out the basic demographics such as their age range, education level, and professional experience. Will the decision-maker(s) be in the room? Do these individuals have the authority to buy your solution or approve your proposal? Does this audience want a high-level overview with minimal details, or are they expecting a detailed analysis?
2. What are your listeners' main needs, challenges, and interests? Prior to presenting to your audience, find out the problems that are causing them financial loss, decreased customer satisfaction, low employee morale, and operational inefficiencies. What do they need to be more successful, meet their business metrics, and fulfill their goals? What interests are important to them? In your presentation, be sure to show them you know them. Communicate that you understand and empathize with their unique situation. As Carl Jung taught, "A person's deepest emotional need is to be heard and understood by another." Discovery enables empathy, which creates a powerful connection with your listeners.
3. How does your message solve their problem? Now that you know the audience's main issues, you're perfectly poised to present how your product or idea resolves their concerns, addresses their interests, and makes life better for them. Don't expect the audience to figure out the benefits for themselves. Clearly and overtly articulate how your solution or proposal will help them. As Martin Luther King Jr. advised, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
4. What do you want from your audience? So far, you've done a great job identifying the people in your audience, what they need, and how you can help. Next, determine what you want out of the presentation? What do you want your listeners to do as a result of your message? This desired response is known as the "call-to-action." Therefore, ask yourself: "At the end of my presentation, I want my audience to________." For example, do you want them to: buy, commit, recommend, approve, sign, comply, fund, understand, agree. . .? Select the one action verb--a single response--that you most desire from the audience and be sure to clearly confidently ask for it.
5. What questions or objections might this audience have? Given the people in your particular audience, anticipate their questions. What would cause this audience to disagree with you? What issues may arise to cause a delay or denial of your request? What additional information might they request? Prepare and rehearse your answers ahead of time. By identifying the obstacles before you present and rehearsing prepared responses, you'll handle the Q&A session with confidence and finesse.
The first step in delivering a persuasive presentation is to know your audience. These five questions lay the groundwork for discovering who your listeners are, what they need, and how you can help them.
Again, thank you very much for completing the one-question survey to help me understand the communication topics most important to you:
In addition, if you would like to learn more about knowing your audience and delivering a powerful persuasive presentation, please read my book Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover, audio, and Kindle).
Feel free to contact me directly to schedule an in-house corporate training event or private individual coaching for you and your team. I would be honored to support your presentation and communication success.