It is important for public speakers to build credibility, to brand their name as a recognizable expert in their field. There are many ways to become a respected expert, but perhaps one of the most important ways is to know your audience. You are an expert and in order to be a credible source in your area of expertise, you need to serve your targeted audience.
Your goal is a happy and engaged audience.
You may be a specialist in your field, but take the time to research every audience you speak to, using their needs as a roadmap for your speech. You will capture their attention and give them exactly what they want and need. You will make them feel. With this, you build your credibility as your audience sits back and says, “Hey, this speaker knows his stuff. He knows us!”
A good speaker takes his expertise and his audience and molds his presentation into a form that his audience relates to. Often in the excitement of a new engagement, we speakers think of all the things we will show our audience, all of the things we will teach them. We forget to learn about our audience – who they are, where they come from, what they want. We are speaking for our audience, providing them with the service of our expertise to help them and their personal needs. Research your audience. They are the key to your credibility.
It may sound easy enough, but determining what it is that each audience needs can be a bit daunting. Envision yourself sitting with the audience and contemplate what it is you would want to get out of the engagement if you were in their place. Once you can perceive yourself as a participant in the audience, then you can begin to envision the speech that your audience needs, one that they will remember, and one that will have people coming to you asking to book you further.
As a mentor, I often see speakers overlooking this step, not taking the time to learn about their audience, and forgetting that doing this will make their engagement much more fulfilling. Perhaps you already think you know your audience simply because they are already in your niche. However, knowing your niche and knowing a specific group of people within that niche are two separate things. Know your specific audience, and do not assume that knowing their geographical or career background equates to knowing the specific group of people you are interacting with. Not properly researching your audience can damage your credibility, not to mention the engagement itself.
A presentation in front of an audience is similar to someone visiting your website. You must capture their attention from the very beginning. If you can’t, they will move on, uninterested and untouched by your expertise. You want to make your audience feel something and to let them walk away with a solution gained from your personal specialization. You are an expert, you do have something to offer, and it is important to tailor it to your audience, to continue in your niche as a credible professional.
Interestingly, because many speakers are engaged via referrals and word of mouth, a good or bad presentation will go a long way to get people talking about you. Nobody will appreciate a speaker who gave an audience a bad presentation, one that had nothing to do with them, one that didn’t benefit them, one that made half of them fall asleep and the other half walk out the door.
Knowing your audience ensures that you will be able to tailor your expertise to your audiences needs. Your audience is an integral part of your professional work, and treating their needs with importance builds your credibility as a professional and expert speaker.