So, you’re sitting down at your computer preparing for your talk or workshop. Most presenters spend a large percentage of their prep time thinking about all the bullet points they want to put on their PowerPoint slides.
So let me ask you this: Who is the most important person in the room? Is it…
(a) you, the presenter, or
(b) the audience member.
If you answered (b) the audience member, you’re right. Without the audience members, you would be talking to an empty room. So, if you’re spending a lot of time planning and designing your PowerPoint slides, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
Presentation coaches will tell you that you have to know your audience.
Absolutely you do! However, there’s more to knowing your audience than just “Who are these people?” It’s not only about identifying whether they’re holistic health practitioners, small business owners, financial advisors, life coaches — or whether they’re single, married, parents, dog owners, homeowners, renters, vacationers, healthy, tired, etc.
What Presentation Coaches Never Talk About Is…
…audience psychology — about what’s going through the minds of your audience members — about what they’re thinking and feeling…
- before they come into your session
- as you begin your session
- as you work your way through your session
- as they leave your session
Presentation coaches also never talk about the learning needs, wants, and likes of the people sitting in your talk or workshop. They focus on the speaking end of the presenter/audience relationship, but not on the receiving end. There’s a lot that’s going on between you and your attendees and inside their minds — some of which will sabotage your message, some of which will support, strengthen, and drive your message.
Why Do You Need to Understand Audience Psychology?
Knowing something about the mental and emotional state of your audience members during your session will influence the success of your talk or workshop.
It will impact whether or not your attendees do anything differently as a result of having been in your session.
Are they going to ignore what you said or be moved to action?
As a presenter, your mission is to influence your audience members so that they believe what you say and do what you want them to do.
You have a defined purpose that you want to achieve. (If you don’t, then why are you giving the talk or workshop?)
Your purpose is to do one or more of the following
- sell a product or service
- make your attendees aware of something
- provide skills and knowledge that will transform the lives of your audience members in some way
- inspire your attendees to do something, to act differently, to take some sort of initiative, or to think differently
Knowing whether your audience members are skeptical, positive, hostile, or accepting will help you craft your presentation to achieve that purpose.
Knowing why they don’t participate, ask and answer questions, or rush to the back of the room to buy your product or service will also direct your preparation beforehand and your course-correction during your talk or workshop.
Giving a presentation or workshop is about tapping into the psychology of your audience members and connecting with their thoughts and feelings every step of the way. It’s not about the PowerPoint slides. They’re just a tool like any other. Used well…with the right words and images on those slides, you can help or hinder how well you achieve the purpose of your talk or workshop.