Presentation Skills: What Does “Know Your Audience” Mean?

When you give a presentation, it is important to “know your audience” – but what does that mean?

In order to tailor your presentation to the audience and make it easier for them to follow, you have to understand as much as you can about their background, how they like to receive information and what questions they might have.

If you know the people you’re presenting to and have presented to them before, that can make it easier because you know what they’re interested in and what questions they might ask.

But if you’re presenting to a group of people that you don’t know, such as colleagues from different parts of the business or remote customers, you may not have a lot of specific information about them.

Do what you can to research and gather data about them. Talk to people who have presented to this audience before. For example, talk to your customer service staff and ask about some of the issues that come up. Talk to the sales people to get an insight into what’s important to these customers.

Talk to a few of the audience members yourself. Explain that you are preparing your presentation and ask what questions they have or what they’d like to know about your topic. People are often willing to give you their ideas, questions and opinions if they know it will help you deliver a more useful and effective presentation

If you research your audience, to the extent possible, you will be in a better position to customize your presentation so they remain interested and engaged.

Customizing Products and Services Presents Entrepreneurs a Great Way to Bootstrap a Business

We live in a world where mass production and scalability have enabled consumers around the world the opportunity to enjoy a wider range of Consumer Products and Services than ever before. Large scale production drives down prices. Items that were once luxuries are now within reach of masses of consumers on every continent.

Overwhelmingly the benefits of scale and industrialization are beneficial to society. Jobs, distribution opportunities, global trade and finance have all thrived in large part because of the benefits of a consumer driven world. The Benetton sweater or MAC cosmetic that is purchased in Denver is the same as a unit of either sold in Sydney.

There is a downside to mass production, a downside that presents opportunities for those seeking to position their enterprise successfully within the whirl of this hyper–competitive consumer marketplace. Most mass produced products are impersonal. They offer value, utility and uniform performance features. They do not, however, differentiate themselves significantly from competitors. This is where the creative and craft minded producers can maximize their offerings.

Hermes purses and scarves are famous, but simple examples of a Brand that has been built from scratch, painstakingly over time and by being extremely protective of distribution channels for their limited production, hand crafted products. Hermes controls the price and design of each unit produced with a discipline that borders on fanaticism. When a design becomes popular and demand soars, the family owned Company caps production far short of maximum sales potential. This is a classic example of a limited distribution strategy that serves to increase Hermes’ product desirability among discerning consumers.

Ferrari automobiles, Zegna menswear, Piaget watches, Tory Burch fashions and La Prairie Skin Care and Cosmetics are other examples of Brands that have created world-wide franchises by avoiding any taint of a mass production model. They sell service, customization and personalized product that elite customers demand. The strategy does not need to be limited to exclusive couture brands, however!

The Branding and Marketing Consulting firm that we manage utilizes many different forms of personalized service or customized product assembly to differentiate our clients. In order to be able to compete with behemoth, multi-national brands a new company must be able to identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A better ingredient story or a better mousetrap design will not suffice.

Recently a prospective client approached us with a Perfume concept. The Fragrance world is huge and brutally competitive. The perfumer we met with was keen to commercialize a range of scents, mainly by utilizing generic top notes. We spent a good deal of time trying to define a USP that would differentiate her product, while creating a niche she could occupy. The final, agreed suggestion was to sell a value added personalized blending service with each offering customized, value added and unique to each client. There are a number of added special service features which insure that the Brand will be perceived as unique by her “alpha” clientele.

We have utilized one form or another of this strategy for Gourmet Food products, Toys, Cosmetics, Wellness regimens, Service Providers and many other client projects. An important feature of this strategy is the opportunity to bootstrap the product or service when limited resources are at hand. Local sales can be leveraged to regional sales and beyond. The enterprise can be grown at a pace that is more easily handled by thinly resourced entrepreneurs.

Red Bull, Snapple and Arizona Iced Tea did not start as national and international brands. They were bootstrapped. They found holes in saturated, developed marketplaces and they filled niches. This model is available to creative entrepreneurs who are driven to compete, but understand that they must deal from a different, smaller deck of cards.

by: Geoff Ficke

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Preparing to Craft a Concise Presentation

A local organization has asked you to send a representative to speak on a particular topic. Although you have received these requests before, you always sent one particular person to fulfill this role. However, that person no longer works for the company. Although you have known replacing them needed to happen sooner rather than later, you can no longer put off its importance. Grooming your next executive to craft a concise presentation is important to the organization’s bottom line. How do you begin?

If you had time to do it yourself, you would. But you don’t. However, sending a group of managers to a workshop on presentation skills is an option. A professional development company that specializes in executive presence and presentation skills can teach your managers how to craft a concise presentation while critiquing their particular skills of public speaking. The most effective presentations include these important components:

1. Clear Purpose and Objectives
The purpose must be clearly understood before anyone can craft a concise presentation. What message will the audience understand when they leave? What are the important points to consider? What is the best way to organize the material to deliver a clear, concise message?

2. Awareness of Audience
What type of people will hear this message? College students, seasoned executives or stay-at-home mothers? Who will hear the message is just as important as what is said. You certainly want to make sure your style of language fits the listeners you will address. In addition, to craft a concise presentation, you want to make sure the audience can follow the content of the message. Are you addressing a group of scholars or first-year college students? Who you address will also determine the language you use for the presentation.

3. Time Efficient
How much time you have to deliver the presentation will impact its content and organization. In addition to the considering the time needed to deliver the content, there should be time left over for questions and answers at the end. Planning how you will use the time allotted is important. It will impact the presentation’s effectiveness. So be mindful as you craft a concise presentation not to spend too much time on one point and more time on less important ones.

4. Visual Aids
Adding illustrations or other visual components to the presentation can also increase its impact and effectiveness. Considering the explosion of visual material found on Facebook, YouTube and other Internet sites, your presentation could benefit greatly by choosing powerful illustrations. In fact, to craft a concise presentation, visual aids could cut down on the time needed to explain difficult concepts or allow you to quickly introduce new ideas.

These are just a few considerations to ponder while preparing to address an audience. To craft a concise presentation requires a time commitment to study, research and prepare. Understanding the purpose of the meeting, the audience, the time allowed and whether or not to use visual aids are just a few points of reflection. There are more items to discuss and presentation skills training will help strengthen your leaders’ abilities to deliver presentations that are superior in a group or one-on-one session.