Engagement Requires Being Audience-Centric

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I throw around the term “audience-centricoften, but let me explain it a bit more. Being audience-centric is a brief description of how presentations are supposed to be geared. A presentation where the content is prepared with only the audience’s needs in mind, and crafted to ensure that the audience is satisfied with the content they received.

As part of the preparation process, the presenter needs to think about what the audience currently knows or doesn’t know and begin the information from the simplest point building to the most complex. So many presenters don’t consider what the audience doesn’t know and they begin at a point that is already over the audience’s head. That is like starting a toddler in high school.

I mentioned in my previous blog (What Selection Committees Really Want) that you likely speak very differently to colleagues at work than you do your family at home. The way you speak to your family at home is the way any business developer, project manager, or presentation team should talk to selection committees, all prospects, and current clients. Treat them with kid gloves so to speak; phrase the information to ensure that they understand.

web_offer_banner_2losingYou do this by first covering what they know already, and then expanding to what they don’t know. For instance, I can talk about a frog, but I first have to explain what an amphibian is in order to explain why a frog’s skin is slimy. It’s possible that my audience vaguely knows what an amphibian is, or at least they should have heard that word before. I need to ensure that we are all on the same page before I can describe a frog any further. That’s audience-centric!

If you wish your audience to remain interested, then you must give them the information they desire and understand. An audience-centric presentation begins in the planning process. As the presenter you must stop and think about who makes up the selection committee (or audience), what is their background, how in depth are they in the industry, and what they should know.

Keep in mind that you want to prepare the presentation for the one person on the selection committee that comes from completely outside the industry. Which means you must begin at square one. During a client interview, if you can teach the person who knows nothing what’s going on, you’ve convinced everyone that you are the person for the job.

Keeping people engaged in a presentation comes from being audience-centric. If you can keep them interested because they understand what you are talking about, then you are maintaining engagement. Speaking over the head is an instant way to have an audience member disconnect and think about something else.

Pairing being audience-centric with some strategically chosen examples and you’re set to win!

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