Consider the following: you must deliver a speech to an audience from a different state hence you carefully choose the references that, in your opinion, will be appealing to them. However, your choice must reflect your perception.
Imagine if, on the day of your presentation, instead of a lively and engaged audience, you see nothing but yawns. Or even worse: you see displeased faces due to a possible preconceived opinion you might have passed on.
This happens quite often.
Some speakers disrespect the profile of their audience, consequently, the risk of sounding too technical, giving wrong or repeated information, increases. Like that, it is totally comprehensible that their attendees will focus on everything rather than on what is being presented.
The importance of empathy
Know the audience’s profile represents the best tool to connect the speaker with the audience.
It is impossible to establish this relationship without empathy, which means understanding the feelings and opinions of others.
It is not about feeling the same or always agreeing with them, but to respect and understand what they think, talk and feel.
There are very different types of audiences. Indeed, there are. Throughout the experience, we have realized that there are some reoccurring behaviors, which define certain audience’s profiles. To help you approach them, establishing an empathic relationship, we put together the list below.
Pessimists tend to believe what you are saying does not apply to their reality and, therefore, probably, it will not work. Dealing with this profile requires, just like the others, empathy and a gentle voice’s tone.
If you come across pessimists during your presentation, let them know such attitude will not help them leave their comfort zone or be informed of new solutions. Convince them that before passing a judgment on anything, they must give it a try.
Not knowing what the audience is thinking is, possibly, one of the major obstacles to be faced in a corporate presentation. Even when people are not saying what they are thinking, it is possible to deduce theories from their facial expressions, gestures, and attitudes.
If you meet someone like this, do not give up. Sometimes, that person, the one showing no expression, is taking in 100% of what you are saying. As the saying goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Usually happens, at school, when a student cuts in the teacher to prove how smart or funny he/she is. Well, there could also be a know-it-all among your audience. It is that kind of person that challenges you constantly, disagrees with almost everything you say and dares you while interrupting your speech.
People who do that like to be in the spotlight; so, give them what they want and befriend them. Always use them as role models, talk to them, ask them if they agree with you and why. Cherish their ego, just like they want you to, and let them be the center of attention.
Often, people who belong to this profile just want to show service to someone superior to them who is also attending the presentation. Then, they just end up making questions at wrong times.
Of course, questions are always welcome during the lectures but only with moderation.
Try to be as objective as possible in your answers. Otherwise, he/she may end up disrespecting the time of others.
That is that person who cannot stop talking with other attendees, causing others, and consequently the speaker, to lose focus. The best solution to address this personality is drawing his or her attention to the presentation.
A good tip would be to approach that person when interacting with the audience by calling him/her by the name. Try to make it clear the reason you are there and move just on.
The tutor is usually the person who hired you. In general terms, he or she tries to tell you what to do all the time, fearing something might not go well during the event.
The best way to deal with this type of person is to calm him/her down.
Show empathy by saying you understand his/her apprehension, but you are skillful.
Do your “homework” and say you have researched the company. Then make your presentation in accordance with the subject and profile agreed upon.
The smartphone addicted
It use to be the prevailing profile. People who are attached to their smartphones sending messages, play games and even interact in the social networks during your talk.
Calling by the name might also work for those who cannot look away from the screen. You could also, when walking around the audience, stand in front of or near that person. Therefore, he/she will feel embarrassed about being distracted thus refraining from picking up the phone.
This is also a very common profile in presentations. When you least expect, they fall asleep, taking your concentration along with them.
For the snooze types, the same strategies suggested for the smartphone-addicted apply. With one difference: you must be sensitive. After all, the sleepiness might be due to some problems that prevented that person from sleeping the night before.