Knowing Your Audience

Knowing the people in your audience can play a big part on the workmanship of your communication with them. I have noticed that just because someone has good communication skills does not mean they will do well when it comes to presentations because of the variety of people they will be talking to. Over all the years that I have been going to seminars for work purposes, I have noticed that all of the presenters have done it differently but they have all been affective. Anyone presenter can improve their presentation skills by giving him or herself time to discover and research their audience before they start their seminar. The presenter should start by knowing who will attend, and what the audience is expecting to get from the presentation, once the presenter has this information they can start preparing for their speech.(Kettenkofen, 2006) Other than rehearsing for your presentation, nothing will improve your skills more than knowing the details about your audience.

There are many things to consider when someone is trying to get to know their audience. Some characteristics that I look for are male or female, age of the people, level of education, attitude, expertise of topic, cultural background, and even the geographical location (Kurtus, 2005). The presenter will need to know the percentage of males to females and the average age of his or her audience; this will help them pinpoint the audiences over time. The level of educational background within the audience makes a big difference as well does the expertise of the topic the audience already may know. Knowing if the audience has an educational background will change the way the presenter should talk to them, whether to speak to them as they would a friend or as they would to a professional businessperson. If the people in this audience want to be there at the seminar or it is something required by their employer or their position, can change the attitude and how the presenter will want to come across.

The most important characteristic to me would be the geographical location of the presentation compared to the geographical location of the people in the audience. It will change the cultural background more than people may think. The best ways to help the presenter find out about the characteristics of their audience would be using communication channels. They could start by mingling with the people before the presentation starts, that way they get to know some of the people and their personalities. As a presenter, I like to start with three different types of jokes and see what the people in the audience react to best, such as political, silly, or straight liners and go from there. Beware of the diversity of the audience. Beings there are so many different types of people in this world; you need to be careful of what you might say. There are techniques that presenters can use to get the people in his or her audience to warm up to him or her.

The person speaking would want to start by promoting him or herself. Once the audience feels comfortable the presenter will know more about the people in the audience, and that will help with how to present. There are people in this world that take things to heart faster than others do. As presenters, we need to be careful of these people so we do not offend them, because if you do the presentation will only get harder from there. Once the person giving the information has recognized his or her audience, they will want to ensure that they come up with the perfect way to get the information across. Just like everything else, they are different ways to go about this. Some of these are to use interacting, PowerPoint, handouts, or just talking with no other material. I personally like to start with a PowerPoint presentation; depending on the information I got about my audience, I would use graphs showing progress.

Giving information to your superiors (management and stakeholders) or customers, you always want plenty of detail so you can answer any question that you think might come up, and try to answer it in your PowerPoint before it is asked. Within the PowerPoint, I would put few bullet points but have plenty to talk about with each bullet point. Everyone wants to see the progress whether it is within the company or with the product that they are buying. Charts are a way to make sure the audience is watching the PowerPoint; most people do well with visual information and they will understand it better. The recommendations that I would give any person expected to give a presentation or even write a paper, would be to know the audience and know it well. Most people I talk to about this, tell me that they know the people they will be giving the presentation to. What they do not understand is just because they know who the people are; have they done their research on how the people interact with information.

There is a difference in knowing someone and knowing how to present towards those people. Every time that I have to give a speech, I am usually not the first person to talk to the audience. What I do is sit aside the audience and watch how they are interacting with the speaker as he or she talks. I then readjust my information to coincide with what is working best with the audience, which is present. What we need to realize is that we need not to panic when giving our presentation. Note that anything can be changed wants we have figured out our audience, whether it is the order of the information or the depth that we go into on each point, etc. Practice is well needed in anything we do, but knowing how to play the game makes you the player that you are. So practice your writing and speech, but know your audience and you will conquer.