Knowing your subject is a very important thing, of course. Yet is also important that you are keenly aware of your audience – who they are and what’s important to them. It may be hard to believe but every speaker is not for every audience and vice versa. And if you find yourself in a situation where you have an audience mix match – step away from the audience! Your audience needs and wants to know that you want to be there!
There are questions that you must ask yourself. Who will be in the audience? What’s important to them? Why am I the speaker? How will I serve up the information in way that is meaningful and useful to this audience? Remember that every audience is different even if you have delivered the information a thousand times. Your responsibility to the audience is HUGE! I always seek to understand what I’m ‘getting myself into’. Please stay away from issues that may be controversial for your audience. Regardless to the length of the presentation or your relationship to the audience(paid speaker or coworker), your impact on the audience should match your intent. This comes from preparation, practice and patience. You should be able to walk away from the presentation knowing that you did you absolute best and the audience was better having been there.
If you are external to the company or department to whom you are speaking, it would be good to get a gage of the climate of the audience. Maybe there are some hot topics that, if touched on, could raise some challenging feelings. The types of things that I have run into in the past have been 1) recent corporate layoffs or 2) current political issues involving the company’s brand or industry. Stay clear of all of that! Confer with the person who asked you to speak to find out if there are any issues within the company that you should know about.
I can’t emphasize it enough! KNOW your audience. The seasoned presenter will be prepared by sending a questionnaire or interviewing the person who asked them to speak. My encouragement to anyone standing in front of the room? Do not be unprepared by thinking you ‘got this’. Don’t take you audience for granted. The face you save may be your own.
Be the Best!