Preparing for a development workshop or a presentation can be overwhelming. There are many things to consider. At the same time, you want to make sure that your audience is engaged and eager to learn.

The best way to do this is to know your audience. No matter what type of workshop presentation you are creating, you must know your audience if you want to give a successful presentation.

Why is it important that you know your audience?

Knowing your audience will allow you to have context and purpose in your presentation. This will help you communicate with your audience in such a way that they will be perceptive and able to understand.

Being able to direct your presentation toward your audience will help them absorb the information more clearly and meet their personal objectives.

This article will explain why you should know your audience, why it is more important than any other factor, and how some amazing techniques can make the process easier for you.

Why it’s important to know your audience

Generally, knowing your audience is the only way you can create a presentation that piques their interest and, perhaps more importantly, holds their attention.

As you nail down your target audience, you will notice their:

  • Interests
  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Religious beliefs
  • Psychological characteristics

Your audience will be most likely similar in all these aspects. Sometimes the differences between them are marginal, yet that small margin can make a big difference.

Think about it. What’s the point of creating a presentation that focuses on how to advance up the corporate ladder and present it to a group of new hires that need to focus on training?

There is no point; this perfectly sums up why knowing your audience is the most critical consideration of your presentation and its direction.

Why you should know your audience

The important thing to remember is that presentations can range from training new hires for your business to teaching teachers new technology for their classes. Why is this significant?

As you can see, every presentation is going to have an entirely different message and purpose. Knowing your audience will help you to customize the presentation to meet their needs. You wouldn’t expect a group of new hires to be interested in things that do not immediately pertain to them, just as you wouldn’t expect teachers to be interested in things that don’t directly pertain to them.

Interest is what makes people attend workshops and presentations where they can gain more knowledge or learn new skills.

Customization is essential for a successful presentation, and it all starts with knowing your audience and what the final objective should be. Yes, customizing your presentation will take some time, but it is the only way to ensure that:

  • Your audience is interested.
    Again, if your presentation is unrelated to the people in the audience and their jobs, then they will not be concerned and unlikely to pay attention to what you presenting. That’s why it is essential to ensure you are speaking to the group, rather than focusing on one or two persons.
  • Your audience is learning.
    Your presentation’s purpose is to teach something and that can only happen when your customized presentation and curriculum are directly related to your audience.
  • Your presentation is a success.
    You want to make sure that everyone in the audience has gained something. When you are able to link your presentation directly to the audience, you will have a successful presentation.

When you know your audience, you keep them engaged as you speak to them. Customizing the presentation so that it relates directly to your audience keeps them interested and willing to learn more, thus making the presentation a success (Bernhardt & Fischer).

You need to know your audience
Get to know your audience

Questions to ask when creating a presentation

Group presentations are often used by companies to address specific needs of their employees. Each presentation is different and has a particular goal in mind, but all of them follow the same format for success.

When organizing a presentation, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the goal of the presentation?
    Make sure that your presentation has a goal, and that everyone attending has a similar goal. You can state this goal or purpose when you introduce yourself and your topic at the start of the workshop.
  • What do they want to leave with?
    What should they learn by the end of the workshop? You must target the end goal, while also ensuring it is customized to your audience.
  • How should they feel when they leave the presentation?
    Your workshop could evoke a specific emotion, such as new hires feeling inspired and thrilled to start working, or managers feeling confident in their ability to lead and succeed.
  • How do I bring everyone together?
    While practically everyone in your presentation will have a shared purpose, there will be a variety of personalities in the room, and you must find a way to bring these types of individuals together.
  • How can I help everyone to help one another?
    You don’t want people interrupting your presentation to chat with each other. There is a time and place for group activities, but for the most part of your presentation, you should get the people focusing on how they can help each other as well as themselves.

The goal of a presentation is to present information to a group in such a way that the group understands what is being presented. As the presenter, you must ensure that your material is presented clearly. You are there to help form a group mentality so that everyone is on the same page. Lead your workshop group by understanding who they are as an audience, the purpose of their work, and how you can most effectively transfer the message you are trying to impart.

Tips for a successful presentation

Here are some last words to make your presentation persuasive, compelling, and engaging:

  • Be more knowledgeable than your audience.
    You are communicating with your audience because you have mutual interests. They most likely already know something about the topic, and you are there to add to their knowledge. Speak to them on an intellectual level that they can understand because you do not want them to feel that the conversation is ‘over their heads’. This can come off as rude and condescending, as though you are speaking ‘down’ to them. Find a happy medium between being humble, eager to teach, and kind.
  • Give them value.
    People tend to lose interest if you make the workshop too personal. The truth is that most people love to talk about themselves. They want to know how this new information will help them. So, any information that you give should be less about yourself and more about the value you can add to your audience’s experience.

Conclusion

As Psychology Today puts it, “Everyone’s favorite topic is the same. We all love talking about ourselves. Next time you find yourself deep in conversation, be sure to listen, too. Odds are, if you let the other person talk a lot about themselves, they will think you are fascinating.”

When you are creating your presentation, keep this simple question in the back of your mind: How can you impact your audience if you don’t know them? And start from there.


References

  • Bernhardt, B. & Fischer, K. “Presentations That Keep Your Audience Interested and Awake.” The Serials Librarian, vol. 50, no. 3-4, 2006, pp. 315-318.