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Lesson 3. Know Your Listeners > Determine Your Goal - Pg. 14

Know Your Listeners 14 If the key players are resistant, what would convince them to support you? --Sometimes you can find out the main reasons why some of the key players in your audience might not support you. It may help to structure your entire talk around dealing with their objections. How much does the audience know about your topic? --Many speakers must address audiences where there are different levels of knowledge and sophistication on a subject. Always pitch your presentation to the lowest common denominator. What are their positions in the organization? --Clearly you would give a different type of talk to peers or subordinates than you would deliver to a meeting of the board of directors of your company. How do they like their information presented? --Some people are persuaded by numbers. They like pie charts and line graphs. Others remember anecdotes or a speaker's personal experiences. The best approach is to vary the way you present information. In a mixed audience, there should be something for everyone. How long do they expect you to speak? --Find out how much time you'll be given. This will enable you to plan the presentation. No one likes a speaker who runs on too long. On the other hand, if the program planner has given you 20 minutes, she wants to make sure you fill the time slot so she's not left with an embarrassing hole in the schedule. What are they likely to wear? --You should always dress appropriately for the occasion. Don't show up in business casual attire if the entire audience is wearing suits. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level above your audience. For example, if they're wearing work clothes, you should be dressed in business casual. That way, you won't feel awkward but you'll still stand out from the audience, as befits a speaker. Determine Your Goal As you plan a presentation and think about your audience, ask yourself: What do I want them to do as a result of my presentation? In short, what is your goal? Speakers who fail to ask themselves this question fall far short of achieving their goal. Perhaps your goal is simply to deliver information to your listeners. You may be giving them a progress report on the installation of a new computer system or you may want them to know about the benefits of a new employee assistance program. Your goal could be more ambitious. You want to explain a new procedure, step by step, so your listeners will be able to carry it out. It may involve something as simple as the action to be taken in case of a fire drill. Or it may involve something more complex, like the standard procedure for writing technical reports. Sometimes your goal may be to entertain an audience. If you're speaking at a roast or a retirement dinner, for example, your talk would remain light and humorous. The most ambitious goal of all is to persuade, or to convince an audience to take action. You may want the listeners to fund a new research project. Getting a key decision-maker to write a check can be difficult because the money might just as easily be spent on something else. You must plan your talk carefully and deliver it forcefully to achieve such ambitious goals. Continually Measure Your Presentation's Effectiveness Whatever your goal may be, you can tell whether you're achieving it by examining the faces of your listeners. As you look out at each one of them · Do they seem to understand what you're saying? Or do they look confused? · Are they paying attention? Or do they seem to be daydreaming or slipping off to sleep? · Are they nodding in agreement? Or are they shaking their heads as you make your key points?