Chapter 3: Developing Compelling Presentations

Speak when you are angry—and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret.
~Laurence J. Peter

Think of the last compelling speech that you heard? If you're like most people, you may be having trouble recalling it. That's because most presentations are pretty forgettable. That's really unfortunate since any speaker's primary goal is to make a lasting impression. So, how can you ensure this doesn't happen to you?

There are a couple of things you can do to develop memorable speeches and presentations. Some straightforward suggestions include understanding your audience; analyzing your information so you can include the key elements in your presentation; and concluding your presentation in a memorable, positive way.

This chapter will help you confidently deliver speeches and oral presentations that are relevant, compelling, and memorable.

Knowing Your Audience Inside Out

Understanding your audience is an essential part of developing an effective speech or oral presentation. In fact, you should have some insight about the makeup of your audience before you agree to speak. Great speakers know that you can't use a cookie-cutter approach when presenting information. You need to tailor each of your presentations so that you meet the needs and expectations of your listeners and the only way you can do this is to get to know them in advance.

Getting to Know the Members of the Group

How do you get to know your audience members? It depends. In a classroom setting, you may already have been associating with these individuals throughout the semester or maybe you have access to their academic backgrounds. In this case, you know that you probably share some similarities and interests with your audience just based on the topic of the course. The students in a class are probably going to be much more homogenous than other groups you're going to face.

At work, you may have had an exchange with your listeners at some point and could have some insight on what they need to get from the presentation. Or, maybe you'll be presenting in front of people you've never met. Regardless of how much you've interfaced with your prospective listeners, an advanced survey to find out the group's overall needs, expectations, interests, challenges, and knowledge of the subject matter couldn't hurt. Where possible, try to secure information on the group's background, including age, race, and income level. This information will help you better prepare your presentation and ensure that the information you include will be useful to them.


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