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
-- 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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