How do you craft a presentation that grabs your audience’s attention and captivates them until your very last word? Public speaking coach shares her proven 2-step formula to creating a presentation that resonates.

When you call your dog to take her morning walk, you don’t speak in the same way that you would when you negotiate with your boss for a raise. Your message is different, your audience is different, so the way you approach the whole interaction is also different. 

Every day, we naturally adapt our style, depending on who we’re talking to and what we’re talking about. For the most part, we don’t even realise that we’re doing that. It comes naturally. 

Guess what? This same way of adapting also goes for presentations and pitches. We need to adjust what we say based on the audience that we speak to. Even when the content appears to be the same – our company, product or service – the message is not.

Adjust your speech with 2 simple steps

People are pretty egocentric: they will only listen if the information is blatantly relevant to them. So, take some time to adapt your message to best suit your audience. Yes, that means that you need to create a different pitch or presentation for each audience and situation. How do you do that? There are two steps:

1. understand your audience
2. craft your call to action (CTA).

Understand your audience

Are you pitching to investors? Future partners? Potential clients? Are you competing in a start-up pitch contest? Who will be listening to you? 

Audience Analysis may sound like a fancy term, but it just means thinking and learning about who you’ll be talking to. 

What’s their background? What are their experiences? What’s their knowledge of the subject? What are they expected to do with the information you provide?

Firstly, think about the demographics of your audience. What do you know about them in terms of their age, gender, culture, ethnicity, religion and level of education? 

LinkedIn and other social media platforms are your friends here. Before you craft your pitch or presentation, figure out who will be in the audience and where they come from.

Avoid awkward situations

Our demographics colour our understanding and experience of the world. By understanding the demographic makeup (and spread) of your audience, you will avoid those awkward situations, like when your joke about that 80s movie fell flat in front of a millennial audience, or when the 70+ age group stared blankly after you referenced your favourite Instagram filter.

However, be wary of stereotyping! Not all 7-year-old girls want to be ballerinas when they grow up.

An understanding of the demographics of your audience will also allow you to adapt the pace of your delivery when you’re speaking to an international audience with many non-native English speakers. If you assume that everyone’s first language is English, you might speak too fast, causing your message to be lost on a number of audience members.

What does your audience want?

Secondly, what does your audience think and believe? This is called an Attitudinal Analysis. Get to know what members in the audience like and dislike, what they believe to be true or false, their interest level, their level of knowledge, their expectations and their  interest in listening to you speak.

If your audience are also experts on your topic, you’ll be able to use more jargon and industry-specific references than you would if you were speaking to the general public.

For each presentation, you need to take the time to study your audience. Think about how to “speak their language” and tailor your message for most impact. Understanding your audience is essential to be able to speak to them in a way that is compelling and relevant. That means that you need multiple pitches, one for each type of audience. And you should always adapt and refresh for each group that you speak to.

Craft your call to action

The other important thing to think about is the goal of your presentation. Will the audience members need to make a decision? Will they decide to approve your project, extend a deadline, provide funding or hire you? 

Think about what the people in the audience will be looking for from your pitch. It could be an innovative approach or product, savvy financials, a quick buck, a long-term partnership, a dependable supplier.

What do you want THAT audience to think, feel or do after your pitch or presentation?

Call-to-Action speaks to the emotions

Your job as a presenter is not to just present what you or your company are doing, it’s to move the audience. It’s to make them think. It’s to persuade them to act or feel differently. 

That is your Call to Action (CTA). It should provide your audience with a clear choice and a strong reason to act. CTAs are everywhere in the marketing world – Buy now! Click here! Donate!

They’re very similar in a presentation or pitch – take the time to write them down to ensure that they come out clearly and with conviction. Some examples could be:

“Visit my website at www.website.com to discover how my services can support your business”.

“Connect with me at the end of this event if you are ready to invest in the future of online presenting”.

“Write down the one thing that you will do differently tomorrow”. 

“Book a complementary call with me to see how I’m able to accompany you on the next step of your journey”. 

When preparing your next pitch or presentation, remember to focus on WHO you are speaking to and WHAT you want them to think, feel or do. You will be more likely to make that sale, grow that list and get that tribe engaged.

About the author

Helen von Dadelszen is a public speaking coach and the founder of Present Potential. She combines her background in psychology and human resources with her profound passion for the theatre and events and uses this unique mix to empower her clients to speak with confidence. 

Do you get butterflies in your stomach before an important presentation? Download Helen’s Pre-performance Warm-Up Guide and step on the stage to make an impact.

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