Match Your Presentation to Your Audience

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Every public speaking expert will tell you to get to know your audience ahead of time. But what do you do with that information? You need to adjust your presentation to meet their needs in several ways:

  • Consider their comprehension. For example, a presentation to a technical group of decision makers is going to contain more quantitative detail than a presentation to a group of less technical junior managers.
  • Include everyone. With a mixed audience, try to address different perspectives explicitly to keep everyone interested. For example, “This will affect the product managers like this… and the engineers like this…”
  • Establish common ground. If you suspect the audience may be hostile, begin by emphasizing concerns you share. Turn the negative into a positive, if possible.

Adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor Online Module: Presentation Skills.

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