Brilliant presentations: what the best presenters know, say and do

4 tips for reading your audience at conferences

As I prepare to speak at the Financial Planning Association FPA Experience in 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, I’m thinking about all aspects of presenting. The following quote caught my eye:

You don’t have good or bad audiences. You have audiences you read or you fail to read.

-Richard Hall, Brilliant presentations:
What the best presenters know, say and do

This made me think about how to read an audience.

1. Learn why your audience is there

Once you understand your audience, you can appeal to their hopes, fears, and dreams. I stress this in my writing advice, too.

When I speak on “Writing Emails and Letters that People Will Read” people will be there partly for the CE credit, but also, more importantly, so they can connect better with clients and others.

If you’re planning to attend my talk, I’d appreciate it if you could answer this brief survey.

2. Listen

Listen to what people tell you about your audience, including any sensitivities. Ignore this information, and you may offend. You’ll certainly fail to make the best possible impression.

3. Look

Look at your audience. Make eye contact. Assess what seems to resonate and what falls flat.

4. Ask questions

I’m a big fan of interactive presentations. When people participate, especially when they apply the information you present, they learn more. This also raises the positive energy in the room.

Your ideas for reading your audience?

You’ve been an audience member, and probably also a presenter. What are YOUR suggestions for reading your audience? Also, how do you use what you learn to boost your presentation’s power?