Connecting with your audience is vital if you want your presentation to be successful. You can have all the information in the world to impart, but unless you can connect with your audience you may as well stand up and sing ‘Round and round the garden’.
Know your audience
The first thing you need to know is who your audience is. You’ll speak differently, for instance, in a presentation given to colleagues than you will for a presentation as part of a job interview. And whilst you may be feeling nervous or excited about giving your presentation, remember that your audience will be bringing their emotions to the room too. For instance, in an educational setting certain students may be worried about their ability to learn. So the way you give your presentation will need to be influenced by the type of presentation you’re giving and who the audience is. Thorough research of this is vital to your success.
Delivering your message
Once you know who you’ll be speaking to, you can go about thinking about how to get your message across.
Remember that you want to speak with, and not to, your audience. A presentation should be like a conversation, a two-way process. We all remember from our school days that certain teachers were better at teaching us than others. The ones who were good engaged our interest, whereas the ones who weren’t so good talked at us. So you need your presentation to be two-way traffic, you need to have some interaction with your audience. Here, armed with the knowledge of your audience, you can decide how you are going to involve them in your presentation. Think about using humour (tailored to your audience), questions, handouts, perhaps even role playing if you feel the subject calls for it. If you use an overhead projector, try asking questions related to your illustrations, rather than just showing slide after slide.
Setting the scene
Think about the setting for the presentation. Will your audience be comfortable? A comfortable audience will be more open to listening than an audience battling with discomfort. It’s easier to present to people you know, and if you know your audience you’ll have a better interaction with them. With this in mind, if you’re presenting to strangers, try to arrive early and mingle. It’ll be easier to ask questions of faces you know than of strange faces.
Suze Burns is a writer living in Somerset.
Nice Suze, you help me to become more confident specially in the interview.
Thanks, I have always struggled with public speaking and found your article really helpful.
Very good idea.