Too many presentations focus on the speaker or the slides — focus yours on the audience
The best communication focuses on your audience. This is especially true when giving presentations. Too often, speakers are temped to call attention to themselves, thinking—erroneously—that they are the star of the show. Other times (although far less often), the focus is on the slides. While both are important components of presentations, they nonetheless must take a back seat to the needs of your audience.
Bottom line: you must discover what your audience wants and needs, then deliver it to them on their terms.
Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Consider the last time you spoke to a preschooler. Chances are you crouched down on one knee to bring yourself eye to eye with the tyke. You might have gently touched the child’s arm to establish a connection. You used the child’s lexicon, choosing your words carefully. You spoke slowly and enunciated clearly. All this to ensure that the child—your audience—would readily understand. In other words, you communicated on their level, focusing the conversation on their needs.
Follow this example when presenting. Focus on the needs of your audience.
Making your audience paramount is the most difficult aspect of your presentation. Your audience is not completely under your control, whereas you, the speaker, and your materials are. A little planning together with some hard work, however, eases the path. Here are some ways to better understand your audience, discover their needs, and connect with them during your presentation.
Do your homework. Invest some time to learn about your audience. Find out where they work and what they do. At the very minimum, find out what they expect to get out of your presentation; in other words, what are they going to do with the information you impart to them. When you know that, you can directly address that during your presentation. Discover what they already know about the topic, and perhaps how you can tap into that knowledge.