Know Your Audience and Build Empathy

Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it “to whom it may concern.”  Ken Haemer, Presentation Research Manager, AT&T

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Over the next few days, I will be posting an outline of the book’s 7 sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic each day.

Section 1: Audience

  • Understand the Audience’s Power – your idea’s fate is in their hands
  • Segment the Audience – Focus on who matters most
  • Present Clearly and Concisely to Senior Executives – help them make big decisions on a tight schedule
  • Get to Know Your Audience – it’s easier to convince someone you know
  • Define How You’ll Change the Audience – what do you want people to believe? How do you want them to behave?
  • Find Common Ground – resonate through empathy

Get to Know Your Audience

Knowing people – really knowing them – makes it easier to influence them.

You are trying to influence them, right? If you’re not, forget the speech and just send a memo.

But if you’re really trying to influence them, you’ve got to connect with them. To connect with them, you’ve got to know something about them.

  • What are they like?
  • Why are they here?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What gets them up in the morning?
  • How can you solve their problems?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • How might they resist?
  • How can you best reach them?

When you know you are doing a presentation – whether a weekly sermon, new initiative, or a committee report, do your people homework before you begin preparing your words. Only when you know WHO can you began to think about the WHAT.

People don’t fall asleep during conversations, but they often do during presentations – and that’s because many presentations don’t feel conversational.

When you really know your audience, you are engaging them in a conversation even if it seems one-sided. Knowing your audience well helps you feel warmly toward the people in the room, speak sincerely to them and help them want to listen to you.

Next: Message

This is Part 2 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Part 1






7 thoughts on “Know Your Audience and Build Empathy

  1. Pingback: Develop Persuasive Content in Your Message « 27gen

  2. Pingback: Use Storytelling Principles and Structure to Engage Your Audience « 27gen

  3. Pingback: Media – Identify the Best Modes for Communicating Your Message « 27gen

  4. Pingback: Slides – Conceptualize and Simplify the Display of Information « 27gen

  5. Pingback: Delivery – Deliver Your Presentation Authentically « 27gen

  6. Pingback: Impact – Measure and Increase Your Presentation’s Impact on Your Audience « 27gen

  7. Pingback: Engage Your Audience, Sell Your Ideas, and Inspire People to Act | 27gen

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