Issue #129 March 6, 2007

PowerPoint Tip – What The Audience Really Needs

Too many times presenters assume they know what their audience needs. And too many times they are wrong. I remember a presentation I did a couple of years ago where I made this mistake. I had a conversation with the person who had booked me and I felt that I knew what they wanted. I prepared my presentation but as I was on the stage, I could see that I wasn’t hitting the mark. And the evaluations showed it. A few months later a fellow professional speaker reinforced for me the need to dig deeper to find out what the audience really needs. So now I regularly use online survey tools to find out what topics the audience wants me to cover and I structure my presentation accordingly. The past two weekends I spoke in Nashville and Las Vegas for the same organization. And the presentation was so successful because of my preparation, specifically my audience research. When they asked me to speak, I suggested that we do an online survey of the attendees so that I could focus the presentation. When the results came in, I was able to start formulating the topics I would present. Then I had another conversation with the conference organizer and we discussed the results of the survey. She was able to add more insight, including the biggest question that the people attending the meeting struggle with. She also clarified the overall purpose of the meeting. These two critical pieces of information helped me focus even tighter on what would be of value to my audience. This audience focus is one of my key philosophies when presenting and was a key driver in my latest ebook, “Presenting Data to Executives”. Too many specialists and analysts deliver “data dump” presentations that don’t take into account the perspective of the executives in the room. This leaves the executives confused and without the information they need to make important decisions. It also hurts the presenters chances at advancement. If you present data to management or executive groups, check out this new ebook at . If you are an executive who has seen one too many of these confusing “data dump” presentations, email me so we can discuss a customized session to teach your staff the secrets of executive presentations.