Talking To An Audience You Know
I recently shared some of my experience on a podcast (2 Minute Talk Tips with Bill Monroe) where I talked about the importance of knowing your audience.
By that I was referring to the importance of understanding your audience and the reasons they are hearing you speak as well as the reasons you have been asked to speak to them.
For this post I want to talk about how you prepare your presentation when you personally know members of the audience or indeed the whole audience and the above considerations have already been addressed when you prepared the actual presentation.
Firstly you need to remember that you are in the spotlight so don’t imagine it is the same as talking to these people at work, at home, at sport or any other location that is more to do with casual interactions. (Yes, an office meeting is casual compared to a presentation or speech.) Keep yourself at arm’s distance.
Secondly, think about whether this is going to make you feel more nervous. For me, I am much more comfortable in a large room of unknowns than in a smaller venue with an audience that I know personally. It may well be different for you – all I suggest is that you think about this before you get up to speak.
Thirdly, make sure you write yourself a strong start and a strong finish. Starting and finishing with strength will create and leave impressions that are the lasting ones. Your presentation is about the information you need to impart, the impression you make on your audience is about you and your relationship to that information. Any other knowledge they have of you should not be in the forefront of their impression of your presentation. This means no inside jokes or references, not looking at one person all the time and not treating this group as anything less than your number one audience for this presentation.
It’s easy to think that because you know this audience they will accept you and your information more readily. Another trap. This audience comes to the presentation with some preconceived notions about you that they may transfer to your information. Keep the presentation factual, to the point and structured so you can finish and know that you have given it your best performance.