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Deep Penetration

Most people who know me or have watched me do a presentation for them know that I am a real stickler for pre-program research. This research allows you to connect with the audience on much deeper levels than you could have without it. There are many ways to research your program that you will learn while taking a public speaking course.

You can review trade publications, do Internet searches, secret shop retail establishments, and use a pre-program questionnaire. I do most of these research techniques for every one of my presentations, but the technique that is most effective for me out of all of those mentioned is the telephone interview.

Interview at least 15 people before your presentation day. Try to speak to some people who are going to actually be at the meeting. If they all have the same rank and same job responsibilities, make sure that you get cross section from geographics, short timers versus old timers and/or male versus female.

Be sure to get a wide range of views. Ask some variation of these questions:
-- What are the three biggest challenges you have in getting your daily duties done?
-- Tell me about the organizational failures.
-- Tell me about the organizational successes.
-- Tell me anything funny that has happened.

Once you have all the informatin you need it is time to assemble it all for your presentation. One of my overriding principals is to make the audience the stars.

One way to do this is to use a very positive or insightful statement that you got from your phone interviews and project it or put it in your handout in a prominent position.

Many times my entire customized presentation is based around the quotes I got from people I interviewed beforehand. I weave my material in and around what they have told me. I then give the overhead or disk to the person who gave me the information.

Overheads are much better for this because I have seen them hanging on the bulletin board in the organization. Of course, my name and company are on it too. Using your pre-program research will also help you build rapport and gain an 'insiders' position because you will be exposed to the terminology of the group, i.e., you might have used the generic term manager, but you learned that the term 'team leader' is used by a particular organization.

The information you receive can also be used to plant the seed for a future public speaking presentation or to land you more consulting work. You might say during a presentation, 'Joe, also told me about XYZ. We don't have time to discuss that today, but it certainly warrants some attention.' Besides promoting you, it shows you did your homework and that you know what is going on in the group to which you are speaking.

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