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Focus on Audience’s Needs, Not Your Own

Categories: Business Presentations

Know your audience and capture their attention.

This statement sounds so simple, but many of us forget what it means.

You can’t expect to convince or sell anyone anything if you don’t understand what he or she expects or wants from you. What do they want to receive from your message?

What’s in it for them?

Let me share an example of what happened when a presenter failed to remember this basic message…

One of BRODY’s clients is a major pharmaceutical firm that throws a party when an employee hits the 30-year anniversary mark. I was honored to be invited to Pete’s 30th anniversary celebration.

More than 60 coworkers, clients, and upper management execs gathered for Pete’s party, where we sipped and nibbled as we waited for Pete’s new supervisor to come in and make the celebratory toast.

While I chatted with others, I learned that Pete was going through a brutal divorce that had really taken its toll on his normally exuberant personality. I was glad he had this party, so he could relax a bit and see just how much his colleagues and his firm valued him and his contributions.

Tom, his new supervisor, rushed into the conference room 10 minutes late and without any apology proceeded to the front of the room, called for everyone’s attention, and began his toast: “A good, long-term relationship with a company is just like a good marriage. You are married, right, Pete?”

While the rest of us cringed, Tom went on with his short presentation, built entirely around the whole relationship/marriage theme. I felt terrible for Pete -- as this moment that should have made him feel valued could only make him feel awkward, uncomfortable, and not particularly appreciated by his own supervisor.

The supervisor had never taken the time to learn anything about Pete (his primary audience) before he wrote his toast.

What a major, unbelievable faux pas!
Pete’s supervisor came up with what he thought was a clever analogy, and worked it until it was polished and well-crafted, impressive even — but entirely unsuitable for this specific occasion or person.

Don’t let this happen to you! Follow these 2 tips to ensure your next toast or presentation is appropriate to the audience and the occasion:

  1. Find out as much as you can about your audience ahead of time: demographics, opinions and beliefs about your subject matter, and any issues they may have.
  2. Always remember the WIIFT? (What’s In It For Them?) Let your listeners know how your subject matter related to them or will benefit them.

What do you think? Can you relate?

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