One quick Google search and every website will tell you about the importance of understanding your audience. Of course, they’re not wrong, but what does that actually mean? Sure, inserting relatable phrases can engage and motivate a crowd, but motivation is fleeting. Here’s the thing: you can’t truly know your audience – ever; and that’s a good thing.

When it comes to presenting, we’re talking to the people who want their presentations to engage their audience and drive them to a decision before they even drop the mic. Here’s how:

1. Don’t be phony

All audiences have an authenticity detector. It’s finely tuned and can pick up when a speaker is being disingenuous in 0.5 seconds flat. You may not be doing it consciously, but when assumptions are made, and your presentation style is adjusted to fit those assumptions – the audience won’t relate. And if they can’t relate to the speaker – how can they relate to the message? There’s a reason you’re speaking in front of an audience, and it’s not for them to think, “ah – it’s one of us”, but rather for you to bring in a fresh perspective. One that’s honest, authentic and understands their niche business challenges and solutions – but does not claim to understand them. 

2. You can articulate their pain points

When presenting to your target audience, it’s not about swinging in the dark and hoping you hit the mark. The more accurately you can articulate a prospect’s specific challenges, the more likely it is to drive action. By highlighting their pain points, you’re also showing them what waits for them after they’ve overcome them (the victory condition). You’re showing your audience that you understand their situation. What happens when your clients feel you understand their situation? More leads, more customers, more referrals, more business. 

3. Templates are useless

Sure, you could follow a templated approach, but how exactly will that set you apart from your competitors using the same template? Most presentation templates focus on creating an “ideal buyer persona”, which is neat – but not enough. 

Let’s say you meet someone for the first time; what would be more effective, listing a bunch of facts about yourself or finding a shared topic that you’re both passionate about? The same goes for tailoring your ICP. At Missing Link, we follow four core steps to ensure we hit the mark: Give your audience a reason to care, a reason to believe, tell them what they need to know and what they need to do. To master this action framework, you need to be willing to step away from the status quo. 

4. You can’t know your audience

It may sound brutal, but hear us out. People can surprise you (in the best way possible), and if you’re hell-bound on shapeshifting into a version of yourself to fit the description of what you ‘assume’ your audience wants -it won’t work. Knowing your audience may tweak what you present, but it should not change how you present. 

Ultimately, there is only one presentation style that you’ll be able to ace every time – YOURS. So, when it comes to knowing your audience – the best way to approach it is to get to know them in real-time, gauge their response and be mindful of them during your preso. 

5. Know the situation

Although you can not truly know your audience, you can always know the situation. You can be mindful of what you want them to do after the presentation is
over. You can be mindful of where you’re taking them, and you can be mindful about keeping them on the right path during a presentation. This is your job: to research your audience situationally – not personally, because the latter is a risky business and almost always never hits the mark.

A good place to start

Although saying that you ‘understand your audience’ is a convenient box to tick off with your marketing team, it’s not always that simple. Before a presentation is delivered, it has to be designed, and before it is designed, it needs to be written. 
Before it’s written, you need to be mindful of your audience.
Ultimately, to be mindful of your audience, businesses need to grasp key concepts that become powerful weapons in their selling arsenal. A good place to start? How about the only presentation training your business will ever need?

Presentation isn’t just about having a slick PowerPoint, they’re the ultimate tool to drive a result for your benefit (and for that of your business) that you’re probably underutilising.

Check out our Presentation Training Course, Boredom Slayers to access unlimited boardroom POWER!