Published on February 18, 2014
Tips on building audience-focused presentations
Building a great presentation starts with studying the anticipated audience. Capturing and holding audience attention is a huge challenge for every presenter. For one thing, a presenter has to compete with Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Candycrush and all the other features a smartphone has to offer. At SOAP we have a saying: just as a traveler has to be well prepared for the trip, a presenter needs to be well prepared to reach the destination. Really, have you ever traveled without knowing where you were going? Without knowing if it would be cold or warm there? So then to sum up: To create a presentation you need to be prepared, and you will be prepared only if you know how to speak with the audience and who that audience will be. To get you there, we’re giving you some key questions that should be answered even before you start creating a presentation, to help you know your audience. Enjoy. soappresentations.com
Knowing the purpose of a presentation means analyzing in depth what actions you expect of an audience once you’ve finished. This means you have to decide on the desired impact. What do you want your audience to do after the presentation? (For example, a goal could be to schedule a second meeting to delve into details and close a deal.) soappresentations.com
This is the information that can guide the tone of the presentation. Would it make sense to use slang with a crowd of very formal people? You get the idea…. soappresentations.com
Figure out what your audience already knows about the subject. Do not underestimate the intelligence of an audience. Repeating information the listeners already know is the fastest way to lose their attention and their focus on you. soappresentations.com
Remember: the audience isn’t interested in what you do. They’re interested in how you can help them. Talking about what you do, how you do it and why you do it isn’t something audiences value. So focus your main message on how all of what you’re saying can benefit them. Bottom-line, be relevant to your audience. soappresentations.com
Try to determine how long you’ll need to explain each key item, and how much time it will take for the entire presentation. That thing people say, that each slide equals 1 minute? It’s a myth! A slide can be on the screen much more or much less than a minute. It all depends on your objective and how you organize the slide content. Also, a presentation should ideally take up to 40% of meeting time; the other 20% should be used for discussion and Q&A. It’s also worth noting that if there are going to be important people in the audience, people who have little time to waste, you should try to be able to summarize the presentation, omitting whatever details you have to, so as to finish your speech while they’re still in the audience. soappresentations.com
Meetings with just a few people Lectures for few people Presentations at events for a lot of people In the third case it’s important to follow the main theme of the event, adapting everything to it, so the audience won’t feel lost. soappresentations.com
Always remember: some presentations can be visually appealing, with little text per slide, while a self-explanatory presentation has to convey the whole message and so requires more text on-screen. (If there is a possibility of using both scenarios, you’ll need two different presentation files.) soappresentations.com
It’s not uncommon to find some audience members who leave you confused or even embarrassed during a presentation. Here are some audience profile types we’ve identified over the years.
the person who thinks that what you're saying doesn’t apply to his/her reality and that nothing you’re saying will ever work. What to do? Try to explain that with a pessimistic view a listener will never leave his/her comfort zone and experience new solutions to old problems. Even if we know that something won’t work, it’s still important to try it. soappresentations.com
you can tell the funniest joke in the universe, but this person won’t laugh, won’t have any reaction at all, in fact. What to do? Do not crack. Sometimes this is an individual actually enjoying 100 % of the presentation. soappresentations.com
you’re being tested the whole time. The wonk disagrees with almost everything you say and likes to interrupt, to challenge. What to do? People do this to draw attention to themselves. So use their interruptions. Use the person as an example and ask questions like: Do you agree with this, and why? Flatter that ego and put that wonk in the spotlight. soappresentations.com
often, this person just wants to show the boss that the job is being done. And so he/she ends up asking countless questions at inappropriate moments. What to do? Questions are always welcome, but in moderation. The time that people are dedicating to your presentation is valuable to them, so be as objective as possible in your answers or you may end up disregarding everybody else’s time. soappresentations.com
this person is always talking to others, disrupting their concentration and yours as well. What to do? Draw the talker into the mood of the lecture, try to address him/her more than once, and say his/her name out loud. Make it clear why you’re there in the first place, then move on. soappresentations.com
is the person who hired you to make the presentation. The mentor is deathly afraid that something will go wrong and never stops telling you what to do. What to do? Calm him/her down. Say that you understand the individual’s concern but you know what you’re doing. Say that you’ve done your job. (For example, you’ve researched the company, and everything you have to say is in accord with that company’s profile and what is expected.) soappresentations.com
a most typical type: always texting, playing games, interacting on social networks. What to do? Whenever possible, call the person by name, as in: "Isn’t that right, Andrew?" Or, when you move, stand directly in front of the person, so he/she won’t have the nerve to keep ignoring you. soappresentations.com
another typical type! When you least expect it, somebody falls asleep and takes all your concentration along with him/her. What to do? You can apply the same solution as that for the constant texter, but be more sensitive here. There’s always a possibility that the sleeper is having a personal or health problem. soappresentations.com
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