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Presenter, Know Your Audience



by Bob Goodyear

I have been working with a company to help them improve the presentation skills of their technical sales people. One challenge this company has identified is that their sales force struggles with giving the right information to the audience with whom they are meeting. In working together with their management, we have identified two areas where they can improve.


Before the meeting

Many technical sales people are asked to come to a meeting and present on a certain topic. When this happens, the person who is asked to present goes into their laptop and finds a presentation on the topic and is ready to go. What they sometimes forget to do is find out who is supposed to be attending. There are a few questions that should be asked before putting a presentation together. Some of the questions that we came up with that should be asked are:

  • Who is supposed to attend?
  • What do they already know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • Why do they care about this topic?
  • What is their view on the topic?

By getting answers to these questions, the presenter can then create a presentation that is customized for the audience rather than a “canned” one. Audiences can generally tell a “canned” presentation from one that has been customized just for them.


In the meeting 

While there may be a lot of work that goes into the preparation of a presentation for a specific audience, sometimes the attendees of the meeting are not who was expected. If a presenter just goes ahead and gives the presentation that was planned, it may not really be targeted for those who are actually in the room.

Once a presenter enters the room, a good practice is to have conversations with the attendees who are already there. Do this before the meeting starts. This allows the presenter to accomplish two objectives:

  1. Learn who is really attending
  2. Become a “known quantity” to some of the attendees.

As a presenter, you may find out that there is a different group of people in the room than what you expected. This gives you an opportunity to make changes to how you present your information. Also, by talking with some of the attendees beforehand, you will be presenting to people you know instead of complete strangers. That helps reduce the nervousness in the beginning of your presentation.

The key element that we want to remember is that we are presenting to an audience who has specific characteristics. We should always be aware of who is in our audience and then tailor our message to them.

The phrase we should remember is “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 their presentation.

Reach Bob by email or by phone at 678.447.7272