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Presentation Skills: Planning and Understanding the Audience


This article is the first part of our series of articles on the topic of presentation skills. Other articles can be found here: #Presentation Skills.

You may enjoy it or not, but presenting is an inevitable part of our life. From the very beginning in the elementary school, through our life we always have something to present. Do you even remember your first encounter with a projector or PowerPoint, do you remember your first presentation? Whether you present a high school project, your business idea, a political program that should change lives of millions, or you just want to entertain people with a few funny pictures, you will need some presentation skills. Effective presentations are a combination of many elements, but we can point out a few key skills that are required when you present in almost every field today.

Planning and Understanding the Audience

Presentation Skills - Research

Do a research

It’s not only about presentation, one of the first step when you are writing something, opening a pet shop or buying a new smartphone is a research. You should always research before you start doing something. Especially if you are not an expert. Because, if you want to deliver a great presentation and to have outstanding presentation skills you will have, at least, to sound like an expert. And even if you have a lot of experience and knowledge about the subject you are speaking about, it’s always recommended to do additional research. Quality research is the first step in making your audience to believe in your words.

Quick tip: Use Google search tools and the internet, there is an answer to almost any question you have, and if don’t find one you can always check the books in the library.

Presentation Skills - Audience

Understand your audience

The success of your presentation will largely depend on how much you understand your audience and how people will react. Before you open your PowerPoint and start creating the first slide, you must know who your audience is, why they will be there and what they expect and want to hear from you, what they want to learn. It’s very important to know what are their attitudes and interests. It’s definitely not the same if you are presenting in front of close friends and in front of important business partners. But this doesn’t mean it’s less important to think about what your friends want to see and hear from you, furthermore, it’s very important to think about what could be interesting for them and what you can use to get their attention. You will probably be less formal, use funny photos, some interesting animations and examples. On the other side, you have to think about how you can convince your business partners and quality present them the subject of the presentation. You will probably be more formal, use simple and clear examples, numbers, graphs or icons.

Here are some questions you should consider and answer in the very beginning:

  1. What is the size of the audience?
  2. What is the average age of the audience?
  3. Is it dominantly female or male audience?
  4. Why are they there for?
  5. What time of the day would you speak to them, is it their free or work time?
  6. What is their level of knowledge about the subject you will be talking about?
  7. Is it appropriate to use humor and what kind of it?

Quick tip: If you have to present a complicated topic, always try to simplify it as much as possible, people love the simple explanations that they can easily understand.

A businessman looking at his watch, deadline/due theme

Find out how much time you’ll have

There’s almost always some time limit for presentations and you have to think about it, not when you have already done your presentation, but before you even start doing it. It’s not only about the time limit, you should think about what is the optimal time for presentation on your subject. You don’t want to keep the audience for too long because they will, very likely, become bored and it will be hard for them to follow you, no matter how good your presentation is.

Quick tip: Make a general time plan for your presentation so you can be sure how much time you’ll have for every single part of your presentation.

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