When asked to speak, you not only want to meet the needs of the organizers and their audience, but you want to be ASKED BACK!
To motivate your audience, present your message so that it addresses their pressing needs and interests. People listen to what affects them and respond to what promises to enrich them in those areas. – Thomas Leech
Taking the time to ask questions such as those in the questionnaire below (or submitting a questionnaire to an organization to complete for you) will ensure you create a presentation to please those attending to hear you and meet the needs of the organizers. I did just that in a keynote presentation I gave to the audience at the Craig Duswalt Rockstar Marketing Bootcamp. I did my homework. I received a standing ovation and Craig, the organizer, had this to say about the talk:
Linnaea Mallette was my keynote speaker at my March 2012 RockStar Marketing BootCamp. While I was already aware of Linnaea’s wonderful sense of humor and ability to speak spontaneously, I was not prepared for what I saw on my stage. Linnaea is a masterful communicator. She had such command, not only of the content of her talk (dealing with adversity), but she had the audience mesmerized. The audience was laughing, crying and spellbound the entire 40 minutes. As a professional speaker, seminar organizer and former speaker on the Toastmasters International stage, I’ve seen many, many, many speakers, and I can say with all sincerely, Linnaea is a true RockStar in the speaking industry. Any event that has Linnaea as a speaker is going to benefit from her presence.
It pays to analyze your audience!
Analyzing Your Audience
Many of these questions came from a delightful professional speaker named Mary Ellen Drummond. You can download this questionnaire here.
- Age range?
- Average age?
- Education background?
- Job responsibilities?
- Number of males, females?
- Group size?
- Dress code?
- Reason/purpose for meeting?
- Theme of meeting?
- Goal or desired outcome of meeting?
- Any issues to avoid?
- What does the audience already know about the topic?
- Any special challenges or problems?
- What type of programs have been presented?
- Names of previous speakers?
- Names of officers or top managers who will be in the audience?
- Who will precede my presentation?
- Who will introduce me?
- How long will I present?
- Starting time?
- Ending time?
- Question and answer time desirable?
Examples of why these questions matter:
What does the audience already know about the topic?
Despite speaking for over 20 years and many successes like the keynote at Craig Duswalt Rockstar event one would think I would always pay close attention to the need to analyze the group to whom I’m presenting.
Recently I did not and was not pleased with the outcome. I was invited by a Toastmasters Club in Santa Monica to speak to the group about podcasting. I had over 60 podcasts as a result of hosting my radio show for 18 months. I could write a book on my experiences as a radio show host; I only had 8-10 minutes to talk about it to this group. With so little time, it was all the more imperative I do my research. I did ask what they wanted me to talk about, but I did not ask what the group already knew. They asked that I give a very elementary overview of pod casting based on my experience as a radio show host. I interpreted (not recommended) that to mean how to create and share podcasts. I gave my talk, only to find out that probably 80% of what I shared THEY ALREADY KNEW. The club had embarked on a project to create a podcast or two using one of the many options available for creating and hosting podcasts. Had I known THAT, I probably would have talked about creating meaningful content the for a podcast – topics, interviewing techniques, breadth and depth of topics, etc. Instead of feeling fulfilled and gratified that I gave valuable information, I was deeply disappointed. Actually, irritated. At the presenter for not telling me about the club’s project, and at myself for not referring to the handy checklist above to make sure I knew as much as I could to meet the needs and interest of the attendees.
When asked to give a talk, print a copy of this check list and go through it. The 10 or so minutes of time and effort will pay huge dividends to you as the preparer and presenter, and your all important, valuable listeners.
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO KNOW WHO YOU WILL BE ADDRESSING
- Find out who has spoken to them before and on what topics. What was the crowd’s reaction?
- If they have regularly scheduled events, attend one before you actually make your own presentation.
- Obtain the names of some of the attendees and call them to inquire what they think the group needs or would like.