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Strategy 1: Know Thy Audience

Overview

It was a great presentation. Unfortunately, it was the wrong audience!

—Authors

We have all attended great presentations; the only problem was that they were for the wrong audience. There are two possible reasons for this. First, the presenter did not adequately research the audience and what it needed. Second, the speaker's presentation was not appropriately aligned with the audience's demographics and/or psychographics. The following example illustrates what can happen.

Jack Welch was chairman of General Electric for 20 years. During that time, GE grew from $26.8 billion in revenue to more than $130 billion. Welch also became one of the most celebrated business leaders in U.S. history. In his biography, Jack: Straight from the Gut, Welch talks about one of his first speeches as chairman of GE to Wall Street analysts:

I had been in the job for eight months when I went to New York City on December 8th, 1981, to deliver my big message on the "New GE." I had worked on the speech, rewriting it, rehearsing it, and desperately wanting it to be a smash hit.

It was, after all, my first public statement on where I wanted to take GE.

My first time in front of Wall Street's analysts as chairman was a bomb.

the analysts arrived that day expecting to hear the financial results and the successes achieved by the company during the year. They expected a detailed breakdown of the financial numbers. Over a 20-minute speech, I gave them little of what they wanted and quickly launched into a qualitative discussion around my vision for the company

I pressed on, not letting their blank stares discourage me.

What happened to Jack Welch can happen to any presenter who does not take the time to truly know his or her audience. In the Introduction you learned that your presentations must be credible and relevant. The following eight techniques are designed to make your presentations as credible and relevant as possible.


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