Audience Analysis Is an Important Tool for Presentations

Get to know your presentation audience before the big day

Businessman doing a presentation at big convention

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Imagine what it would be like to start your presentation, and wonder why no one in the audience is the least bit interested. Or they fidget or simply just walk out. Or you feel like you are in the wrong room giving your presentation.

The most likely cause of any of these situations is that audience analysis was not a priority for you in preparing your presentation.

Why Is Audience Analysis Important?

To make the most effective use of your time in the spotlight, you need to know quite a lot about your audience before you start to prepare. Make these notes part of your presentation checklist.

  • Is the age of your audience generally the same? (Seniors, young adults, children or a general mix of ages?)
  • Is this audience an informal or formal crowd?
  • Do they likely have the same level of education or have the same standing in their jobs?
  • Do they live nearby or are they from all parts of the country?
  • Do they share a common interest — (type of job, hobby, business, school)?
  • Is the income of the audience members a factor?
  • Why are they here — because they want to be or because their company sent them (perhaps unwillingly)?
  • And, most importantly, are they counting the minutes until lunch — or are they falling asleep from eating too much at lunch? Be prepared for either scenario.

Why Did Your Audience Come to Your Presentation?

The easiest "sales job" (and let's face it, every presentation is a sales job, no matter what the topic is), is to have an audience filled with people who are eager to learn all that you can tell them. That would be in a perfect world. However, that scenario is not normally the case.

Your audience is likely composed of people from one of these three groups and you will need to deal with each set differently.

  1. Members who don't know about your product/concept and really want to learn
    • This is an ideal group. Just be careful not to be so enthusiastic that you are on the verge of overkill. Audiences are turned off when you continue on and on, long after you have made your point. (Visualize your teenager here and how they can tune you out).
  1. Members who feel they know much more than you do, but want to be there just in case you can offer a nugget of useful information.
    • Invite these audience members to share some of their extensive knowledge. Not only will you make them feel important, but you may learn a thing or two that you did not know yourself.
  1. Members who totally disagree with you and want to let you know that
    • If you can tailor your talk in a way that may make these members see a different light on the subject or even question their own thoughts, then you are on the way to a win. Clear and concise facts, not theories, will be the ticket here.

Any time invested in researching and analyzing your audience prior to your presentation is always time well spent.

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