Presentations – What Audiences Want And What They Definitely Do Not Want

In today’s business world of ‘quality circles’ and ‘managing for excellence’, the most successful individuals are often accomplished presenters. That’s because a successful presenter is more than just a fact dispenser – he or she really knows how to communicate with their audience, someone to whom people listen. The effective speaker in business, just as in the political arena, is the one who can make people hear the facts and believe the message.

Unfortunately, public speaking is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Without prior training in the basics of timing, body language, humour, organisation and all the other skills that go into the act of public speaking, even the smartest, liveliest and most articulate individual can wither in the glare of “the spotlight”.

What Do Audiences Want?

o To feel you ‘know your stuff’

o That you look the part

o That you respect them and acknowledge their situation and views

o To find what you say links with what they want from you

o To have sufficient information to make a considered judgement about what you say (they will ‘weigh it up’)

o To be clear about any action necessary – at the end

And above all to find it understandable, interesting and a good fit with the audience and the occasion.

And In Summary: What They Most Definitely Do Not Want?

o To be confused

o To be blinded with science / technicalities or jargon

o ‘Lost’ in the structure (or lack of it)

o To be talked down to

o To be made to struggle to understand inappropriate language

o To be made to make an enormous jump to relate what is said to their circumstances

And they do not want to listen to someone whose lack of preparation makes it clear they have no respect for the audience. As with most things in life, preparation and planning is everything.

It is important to remember that as the presenter or speaker, we are there for our audience, they are not there for us – we must earn the right by proving our credibility, to be standing in front of them.

Copyright © 2006 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved