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Conduct Audience Analysis

In the audience were a dozen high-level, extremely knowledgeable people. The speaker was describing the procedures used for financial analysis and resource allocation. Said one attendee: "It was awful. The speaker went into every detail of every procedure and covered the full background of how each system evolved. No one cared, but he never caught on. We kept waiting for him to get to the heart of it, but he was enamored with all this history and background. If you asked him a simple question, he went off again into every minute detail. I couldn't wait to get out of there."

This presenter failed to ask some basic questions about the audience, a crucial and often neglected part of presentation development. It can encompass many parts and levels, including psychological drives, learning theory, and resistance to change. What baggage— impressions, experiences, and agendas—do listeners bring to a presentation, and how did they come by it? To boil all that down to something manageable, we're going to look at five composite audience characteristics (see Figure 4-4).


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