Monday, March 24, 2008

Authenticity Rule #3 - Know Your Audience

Authenticity Rule #3 is Know Your Audience.

(Review AR #1 - Know Thyself and AR #2 - Know Your Content)

Why is knowing your audience so important? Well, unless you are a "one-act presenter," you need to vary what you do and what you say based on each particular audience. Tony Bennett doesn't need to change what he does each night because he is a one-act presenter. These songs. This voice. This band. And his audience wants exactly those three things. Save a few comedians and magicians, presenters need to adjust their "act" each time to serve the needs and expectations of that particular set of humans. Zig Ziglar prepares three hours for each presentation. He invests this time to get intimate with that event's audience members, their company, their expectations and the content he will deliver.

The more familiar you are with your audience's challenges, questions, needs and expectations of you, the better equipped you are to help them move forward, to give them value and to connect with them.

When you are preparing for your next presentation, ask yourself a list of audience-focused questions...

What will the audience expect to learn from me?
What type of mood will they be in?
What questions will they potentially ask me?
What will they absolutely not want me to do?
What barriers will they have up?
How can I connect with them at the very first?
How will they be dressed?

The answers to some of these questions will be event-based and some of them will be audience-based. If you are speaking at a conference, the event will drive most of the answers because everyone will have more in common (at a once-a-year event, away from home environment, by myself or with only a few peers, expecting to be entertained, looking for next-level information/inspiration/ideas, etc.). If you are speaking to a group in their home element or at a very regular meeting, the answers will be driven more by individual needs, small group dynamics or whatever the focus is of that particular meeting (new employee training, monthly leadership meeting, weekly staff pow-wow, etc.)

The Geniune Gem - By investing a large amount of time focusing on the audience and thinking about their world you are able to be more authentic because you will better understand how to bring value to that particular group using your expertise, your experience and your style. Your authenticity is layered. There are many real parts of you. Once you understand your audience, you will know which layer(s) they will best connect with their genuine needs.

BONUS - Another quick AR #3 tip is to mingle with your audience before the event/meeting to learn names (that you can reference in your presentation) and to ask "in the moment" questions (what are you expecting, what challenges are you facing right now, what needs to happen in the next 45 minutes for this meeting to be a 10 for you, etc.)

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