Do you know what your audience needs are?
If public speaking and the mere thought of presenting your ideas at work fills you with dread, you’re not alone. It’s the cause of sleepless nights for many of the most intelligent, creative and talented professionals all over the world.
The reason it’s such a global affliction is because many of us feel exposed and vulnerable when presenting. We know our topic but that doesn’t stop the stream of paralysing, ‘what if’s,’ that can flood our minds. Imagine how you may feel if you stopped seeing the presentation you’ve been called on to give as a curse, an inconvenience or a beauty parade.
What if you saw it as an opportunity for growth and fulfilling what your audience needs
Instead of retreating into fear and anxiety what if you saw it as a means of growing yourself personally and professionally. Just imagine the impact you could have if you used the presentation as a way of helping your audience grow too. To achieve that we have to understand and meet our audience needs,
Whether you subscribe to Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ or prefer the more recent adaptation by the motivational speaker Tony Robbins, most of us would agree that human beings have certain basic needs.
According to Tony Robbins we each have 6 needs:
- Love and connection
- To contribute
Each time we stand to speak many of our needs are challenged and can therefore become the source of great anxiety. Whether you are the presenter or sitting in the audience the impact can be significant.
Interestingly, these extend to our audience needs too:
1. The need for certainty/comfort
Your audience need to be certain that the moment you begin speaking they will know they are in the right room and be glad they came. They need to be clear that you will be respecting and valuing their time and not wasting a moment of it.
The very fact that every presenter is aware of this crucial premise places them under enormous pressure to deliver. It’s all well and good knowing what your audience need but if you’re not certain you can deliver that’s another matter entirely.
As presenter’s we can spend a vast amount of time crafting what we believe is the most stimulating and effective presentation but how can we be certain that they:
Will like me?
Don’t know more than I do?
Will agree with me?
Won’t ask me questions I don’t know the answer to?
The fact is we can’t be certain about any of these issues
That said, if we invest sufficient time, energy and focus on crafting a presentation designed exclusively to help our audience whatever happens we get to grow too.
What if someone actually had the audacity to ask you a question you didn’t know the answer to. You get to be certain that you will know it the next time around.
If you set out with the mind-set to make every presentation you craft and deliver better than the previous one you are on a course for growth.
2. The need for uncertainty/variety
Most people don’t look forward to attending business presentations. Unless of course, their own job is so boring that they’d do anything to escape it. Generally speaking it’s often the same people sitting in the same seats saying the same thing each month, in largely the same way.
Your audience are desperate for you to challenge the status quo and to shake things up a little.
They a little drama, contrast, humour and stories.
One of your audience needs is to see and hear something different
For many presenters this can be the scariest and most complex part of presenting. The presenter needs to feel certain that all will go well and that there will be no surprises. Their audience also want to feel certain that all will go well too but they want something different.
They want to be pleasantly surprised.
Our job as presenters is to start with the end in mind.This revolves around building and delivering a presentation that stands out from the crowd for all of the right reasons.
3. The need for significance
Your audience are the most important people in the room. It’s every presenter’s job to make them feel that way.
As presenters however, many of us hold a perception that there is a great deal at stake that could severely tarnish our own sense of significance. After all, if our credibility or reputation is at risk of being compromised in any way, our self-esteem can receive quite a blow
We all want to look good, impress our audience and elevate our standing and position in the organisation. One of our audience needs is to also feel significant.
If we switch our focus to making everything we say, show and do about our audience rather than ourselves, we strengthen our capacity for mutual growth.
4. The need for love and connection
Relax, your audience aren’t waiting for you to shower them with hugs and kisses.
They do want you to connect with them though.
They have already entrusted you with their valuable time and data isn’t all they want in return.
The idea that we want colleagues and clients to love us at work may be a stretch for many people but the thought of connecting isn’t. At Mindful Presenter we hold the very strong belief that ‘Connecting is everything.’ You will see it on our website and hear it repeatedly in our presentation training courses and public speaking coaching sessions.
Facts, data and evidence are a critical part of our audience needs
They don’t, however, want you to dump all of that information on them in an emotionless vacuum. Your audienc want you to connect with them emotionally as well as intellectually.
They want you to help them to feel something
If you don’t connect with your audience you can be certain that they are unlikely to remember most of what you said.
Craft your presentation by setting a very clear intention at the outset.
How do you want your audience to feel the moment you finish speaking?
5. The need for growth
One of your audience needs is the need to feel some level of growth.
They need you to help them grow intellectually, professional and emotionally.
Why else would they sit quietly listening to you for 20 minutes. There area whole host of other more important things they could be doing with their time.
How will what you have to say help your audience to grow in some way?
6. The need to contribute
Allied impeccably to our human need to grow is our need to contribute.
If your audience are going to sit patiently listening to you for any length of time they need you to contribute something that will make a tangible difference to their professional or personal lives. By the same token, most audiences are only too keen to contribute to a presentation which challenges their thinking and offers them real value.
Instead of dreading giving a presentation see it as an opportunity contribute something important to your audience. Give them the opportunity to make their own contribution to what you have to say too.
Developing our public speaking and presentation skills offers each of us an exciting vehicle for growth.
Are we vulnerable?
Are we exposed?
Is there risk?
The answer to each of these questions is a definite yes although you can be certain that in the absence of these fears there can be little growth.
Meeting our audience needs serves their growth and ours as presenters to.
If you need help meeting your audience needs:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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