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3 Questions to Ask to Get to Know Your Audience


By Bob Goodyear

I’ve presented to several groups over the last few months about how to create a great presentation. One of the first things I mention is the need to “know your audience.” I even wrote a blog post about this earlier. In my conversations with these groups though, I’ve heard that they know this but what they want to understand is WHAT they need to know about the audience. They want some specific questions that they can answer. Today I’ll share three of the questions that I use and perhaps you can share some other questions YOU use in the comments section. Deal? Ok, let’s go.

How many people are you expecting to attend?

While this question is fairly obvious, many times we don’t ask it. It’s important to know the expected audience so that we can tailor any possible interactive activities for the audience. It also might help us to decide whether or not to include a Q&A session during the presentation.

What are the demographics of the expected attendees?

We want to know data such as the ratio of male/female attendees, the expected age range, and from where the expected attendees are coming. These questions help us decide which references we might be able to use in our presentation. For example, while I think The Beatles is a great rock and roll band, I may not want to make a comparison about them if my expected audience is in their 20s. I wrote a blog post about The Beatles a while back, and I’m worried that I may have lost some people with that. American football analogies may not make sense if most of the audience is from another country.

Why does the audience care about this presentation?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask. We want to know “the why” for the presentation. What are the attendees looking for when they come to listen to us? Are they looking for new ideas? Are they looking for recommendations? Are they looking for confirmation that they are doing something the right way or are they looking for specific tools to help them improve a situation? Knowing this information will help us create the right content for our audience.

These three questions and the follow-on questions here will give you a lot of information about your audience. Once you have this data then you can dig deeper and ask more questions. With this information you can begin to create the content and structure that will best help the attendees learn. The questions also help you get to know your audience and feel comfortable.

Please share any other questions that YOU use to help you get to know your audience.

Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with its presentation. Reach Bob by email or by phone at 404.790.5855.