The Key To a Great Presentation: Knowing Your Audience

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The success of every speech and presentation is down to answering one simple question:

Who is it for?

How you answer this question will determine the success of your presentation and the key to giving a great presentation is to be able to answer the one question that every audience member wants answered – what’s in it for me? i.e. why should they listen to you? How will they benefit from your presentation? How are you going to change their lives? You need to make sure that each and every presentation that you give is focused completely on your audience, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

In order to do this effectively you need to learn about the people who will be listening to you:

  • Who are they? What is their age range, gender, profession, cultural background etc.
  • What do they know about your subject? It’s important to pitch your presentation at the right level for the audience, too technical and they’ll be confused, too easy and they’ll get irritable. It’s also likely that you will get a mixed level audience and you will need to cater your presentation for all levels.
  • What are their expectations? Do they expect to be trained, informed, persuaded, motivated or entertained?
  • What is their language ability? Are you speaking to people whose first language isn’t English? Knowing the language level allows you to choose the right words to get your ideas across, you may also need to speak slower and this might mean that you will have to cut down the information you will be covering as it will take longer to say…

Before you write your presentation, ask yourself, who am I speaking to? The more you know, the better your presentation is going to be.

 

If you enjoyed this post then why not try more of our presentation tips:

 

image: PopTech (Flickr)

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How to Recover From Going Blank During a Presentation

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I’m going to let you in on a secret: even the most experienced speakers have gone blank in the middle of a presentation. The difference between you and them is how they handle that moment of blankness. Experienced speakers use the following four simple tricks to deal with going blank and the self-doubt that comes with it:

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Retrace your steps
  3. Check  your notecards
  4. Move on to the next section

 

1. Don’t Panic

This is both the hardest and the most important tactic available to you. Yes, you are going to want to freak out and yes, you will have the urge to run away and hide in the toilets but what you need to do is pause and take a deep breath, a really deep breath. Then take another, this will get oxygen into your brain and help you relax and allow your brain to do its work. Now that you’re starting to relax move on to step 2.

2. Retrace your steps

Think back. What were you talking about before you went blank? Go over what you just said in your brain, usually going over the words again will trigger your memory of what comes next, this should get you through most situations. If not then try steps 3 or 4.

3. Notecards

This is the emergency situation. Calmly take out your notecards and look through them to find what you should be saying next (and only check the notecards, not your script, checking your script may take too long). You could casually explain the notecards by saying something like “this is important so I really want to get this right”. If the notecards don’t help them then try step 4

4. Move on to the next section

If you have learnt your presentation in chunks then you are in a great place because you can keep going, you can move to the next chunk of your presentation and continue. This is why we recommend that you learn your presentation in chunks as each “chunk” is a mini-speech in its own right so forgetting part of the speech doesn’t mean that you can’t go on. Also what you will find happening is that as you continue through the rest of the speech, you’ll remember the important points that you forgot and you can cover them at a later  point in the presentation.

 

To solidify these 4 steps in your mind then as you’re practicing your presentation, make note of the areas that you have difficulty with or that you keep forgetting and ask yourself “If I go blank during this section, what will I do?” The answer naturally is to follow the four steps and if you forget things during rehearsal then practice the 4 steps so that they will naturally come to you if you go blank during the actual presentation.

 

 

If you enjoyed this post then why not try more of our presentation tips:

Image: Het Nieuwe Instituut (Flickr)

Making Dreams Come True

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What are your goals? What are your ambitions?

Our next meeting is all about goal setting, bring your ideas, your ambitions and your dreams, and in the meeting Michelle will show you how to set clear goals and how to plan to achieve them.

Not only that but John will be giving his second speech and Kevin and Jean-Marie will be practising their speeches for the Area Humorous Speech contest..

The meeting begins at 7.30pm in the Lantern Centre so come along and maybe we can help you reach your goal of becoming a better speaker and presenter.

For more details of our meeting click here.

Cogito Toastmasters Dublin
Image: Symphony of Love/John Haro