Home » Blog » Audience centric presentations – the only shortcut worth following

We’ve made a bit of a name for ourselves by obsessing about audiences.

So much so that if we had a company motto, it would probably be something along the lines of ‘THE AUDIENCE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STAKEHOLDER’ (followed closely by ‘FOCUS ON THE STORY FIRST, THEN WORRY ABOUT THE SLIDES’). Granted, neither are particularly snappy or on-trend, but they pretty much guide everything we do for our clients.

Disclaimer: We know that the concept of putting your audience front and centre of any presentation development strategy isn’t particularly ground-breaking. The thing is, very few people do it.

We have a sneaky suspicion that time (and, perhaps, just a touch of laziness) is the main reason for this glaring oversight. Human nature means that people are always looking for a shortcut. The quicker they can move from storytelling and presentation design to delivery, the better in most cases.

You know what? We get it. No one wants to burn through valuable time micro-analysing audiences if there are quicker ways to understand what makes them tick. So the natural temptation is for people to turn to stereotyping and broad-brush profiling of audiences – making assumptions on people because of their job title, age, gender, that sort of thing.

Sorry, but this is fraught with danger. A brilliant illustration of why broad-brushing doesn’t work recently appeared on my LinkedIn timeline:

The original post can be viewed here.  We take our hat off to Edward for this fine work!

The sobering reality is that the critical stages of business presentation development (audience analysis, fine-tuning messaging, editing of content) take time. That’s right – it requires the presenter to put in a bit of extra effort and dig a little deeper to your audience to ensure you make the most of the presentation opportunity.

Now for the good news – there is a way of increasing the efficiency of the audience analysis process. In his book, The Presentation Lab, our founder Simon Morton created a viable shortcut called Audience Heatmapping (you can get the lowdown on this approach here) to help you quickly build an effective understanding of your audience. It’s quick (no more than a couple of minutes), easy and will put you streets ahead of other presenters. Of course, it’s not foolproof – no analysis will ever deliver 100% accuracy for the simple reason that dynamics can quickly change by adding or excluding a highly influential audience member. However, Audience Heatmapping will ensure your business presentation is considerably more audience centric and that your message is laser-focused on delivering a realistic outcome.

So, obsess over your audiences like we do and ignore the perils of shortcuts. Stick to that and presentation excellence will be within your grasp quicker than you think. Click the links below to see how we use Audience Heatmapping with our clients or try it for yourself.

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