I’M A MEMBER OF A TOASTMASTER CLUB IN SHANGAHI, and this year I gave a presentation titled “How to Master Your Emotions Better”. My PowerPoint presentation contained a lot analytical content and in hindsight, would be considered very cerebral. I discussed psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis’ “ABC Method of Stress Reduction”, stating the all the facts, but ensuring that I maintained eye contact throughout the presentation. Nevertheless, I was very disappointed to see that by the end of my presentation I have completely lost my audience.
I should have realised that my audience was switching off by the reaction to my quote, “To name one method to master our emotions is to learn how to identify and correct the distorted thinking and so as to thinking more realistic and kinder to yourself and others.”The room was full of blank faces.
Later, when I mentioned “Confucian theory”, I saw a girl, who was sitting in the first row, wince. Needless to say, my speech was not accepted well by the audience.
The feedback from my evaluator was reasonable, but very tough to accept. “The audience was unable to follow your slides,” She stated, before further criticising my lack of relevance to my audience. “Didn’t you think about your audience?”
That was when I came across my company’s presentation training program, and their first module – AUDIENCE Analysis. “You need to tailor your presentation to your audience”, read the introduction, before explaining that each letter of the word ‘audience’ stood for a word. ‘A’, for example, referred to ‘Attendee number’ and ‘U’ stood for ‘Understanding of the audience’. I immediately began to modify my presentation.
The ‘C’ in audience stands for ‘customisation’, and so I asked myself, “How can I custom fit my message to this audience? Are there any relevant cases that have happened recently? I would also need to add a personal story like how I applied the ABC Method to better control my anger and have a positive relationship with my colleagues.
I moved down the letters. “What do the listeners expect to learn from me?” , I asked myself as I answered the ‘E’; meaning ‘expectations of the audience’. My audience was in their twenties, were enthusiastic and most of them were eager to learn.
By the time I had run through each of the eight letters my original PowerPoint presentation had totally changed. And when I presented it in my club the audience finally was able to retain the information. I saw people’s smiling faces and even heard laughter. At the end, I even received a very positive evaluation and a big round of applause.
So, in short, the next time you give a presentation, start with an ‘A’, ‘U’, ‘D’, ‘I’, ‘E’, ‘N’, ‘C’, and an ‘E’, and put your audience first.
Note: AUDIENCE Analysis is a module from ClarkMorgan’s Presentation Fundamentals course. Each letter stands for:
A – Attendees
U – Understanding
D – Demographics
I – Interest
E – Environment
N – Needs
C – Customisation
E – Expectations
If you’d like to learn more about our programs, give me a call on +86 21 5403 5500, extension 166. Or email me at [email protected]