Creating and refining your content for a conference presentation is a labor-intensive process — but no one presents in a vacuum. There's a big piece that is often forgotten in all of that preparation: the audience. When preparing for conference delivery (or any presentation, really!), it's important to do a thorough audience analysis. Every conference has a different crowd; every group is geared towards different things. What works for one group, may not for the next. Think about your specific conference audience ahead of time, and you ensure that you will deliver your message in such a way that your listeners will receive it.
Before writing your presentation, think about for whom you are writing — it will influence your approach. When you put forethought into your audience’s needs and expectations, it will help you shape your presentation wisely and arm you with awareness as to what you might be up against.
Here are some helpful questions worth asking yourself prior to building your presentation:
- What size is the audience?
- What is their general age range?
- What are their ranks, titles, positions?
- What do they already know about the topic?
- What preconceptions might they have about the topic?
- Is there anyone in the room that really doesn't need to be there?
- What do I think they need to know?
- What do THEY think they need to know?
- What are some questions they may have over the course of the presentation?
- How will the seating be arranged? Can it be rearranged?
- Am I familiar with the tech in the room?
- Do I have access to the temperature controls?
- Will there be a mic? A podium? A lectern?
- Will they need anything in advance? Agenda items, slides, other materials?
- If so, do I know when they will be delivered?
- Are there any specific presentation Objectives about which they should know?
- Does anyone require special preparations? If so, what are they?
- Are there any other factors worth noting?
Seem like a lot of work? Well it is! Prepping for a fantastic conference presentation requires a lot of heavy lifting up-front. But if you invest the time to focus on the structure of your content, be it a demo, interactive panel discussion, or lecture, the road will be paved smoothly for the rest of your presentation prep. Put in the time at the beginning to craft and create a clear and compelling presentation, and your presentation skills will shine through. Your end result will be a knock-out, and your audience will be able to focus on your message and share a strong and engaging connection with you as a presenter.