Know your audience. Always.

Innocents are held captive. The perpetrator’s unreasonable. The professional’s brought in to persuade good outcome from bargaining.

It’s not a scene from bank robbery gone wrong. Nor is the script for Die Hard, Harder, Hardest or even So Hard Willis Looks Soft.

It’s the reality of most meetings. Happening every day. From morning through to night, now seeping out either sides of the working day. Costing billions of lost productivity, and your life*.

The main culprit for this wastage isn’t that the presentations aren’t well thought through, planned and illustrated. Nor is it because the content isn’t worth much.

It’s because the person presenting hasn’t considered who ia in the room and how that presence should affect the delivery of the presentation.

Present to persuade requires a progressive act of managing the audience:

  1. If it’s a handful of people, at least know them from their LinkedIns. Even better is to understand why they’re part of the audience – who and why were they invited. Best is to ask them directly – that way you can manage their expectations and even suggest they don’t participate (if you’re concerned that your content/ delivery won’t click). If you don’t know the people in the room at all, cancel your show.
  2. If it’s a room full of people, know why they’re attending or have been asked to attend. Know what the consequence is of not attending, and what the intention is for them to attend. If you can’t determine any of this and have it impact how you’ll deliver your presentation – rather cancel your show. Without this understanding you won’t achieve what you’re setting out to present. So rather cancel your lack of achievement, then waste your and the audiences time.
  3. If it’s an auditorium worth of punters, know what they’ve been promised. That way you can adjust your deliver so it makes good on the promise. Unpack it for them so they realise your delivery is making good on what was promised. If you’re unable to know, don’t go! Why enter failure willingly?

The point is. The better you know those who will be listening to you, the better they’ll hear you. Keep this in mind – no matter how well you get on with your neighbours you’d explain your favourite position differently to them than you would to your lover#.

* it’s as dramatic as costing you your life, as the time you’re stuck in meetings could be time you spend exercising, learning, socialising – whatever you hold dear on the life aspect of work/ life balance.

# if they’re the same person, you’d still explain it differently to them amongst friends than on your own