Know Thou Audience– it’s a very important concept!
Throughout my time employed at the zoo, we spend the majority of the year speaking to preschoolers about animals. Since it would be obviously inappropriate to talk to three and four-year-old children about nocturnal animals and nictitating membranes, I had to be very diligent about how to prepare the information so it was age appropriate.
Often I had to break down the most simplified information for this age group which is quite challenging. Many times, it wasn’t until I got to the facility did I realize that I wasn’t talking to preschoolers, but to fourth graders and had to quickly change my plan. Other times I had to somehow talk to both preschoolers and high school students simultaneously, which was also challenging, but possible.
If you will be talking to multiple audiences at the same time, you may alternate and talk to one at a time while keeping the focus of both. I began my presentations with a simple survey by asking the audience to raise their hands if they knew what a reptile was and then quickly make a plan of how in depth to go based off of the answer. It requires knowing your information extremely well and being able to think and speak fluently at the same time, a skill that doesn’t come easily and isn’t recommended for new speakers. Although some of these situations are not common in the work place, the moral of the story still remains that a presenter should know their audience. Ask the coordinating person what they think, but prepare your presentation at some point that is easy to understand. Even the newspaper is written on a fourth grade reading level so it can be understood and enjoyed by the general public– keep that in mind.