Not many people know that London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games on the last day of voting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Singapore in 2005. In fact, they were almost the Paris games. The story of how London won the games, basically with their final presentation, is beautifully told in Jon Steele’s book The Perfect Pitch (see my previous post , The Perfect Pitch and the You Factor). One of their keys to winning with that final presentation (their final pitch) was that they studied their audience and designed a presentation experience that would resonate specifically with them.
I always remember that story, and make every effort to know my audience. I recently had the opportunity to give some presentation design workshops to a couple of groups at Philips headquarters in Amsterdam. During my presentation I asked the groups “Has anyone presented to an audience, but really had no clue who they were?” I could see smiles around the room, and just about all the hands went up, including mine. It is an uncomfortable feeling of disconnect – beginning your presentation not being 100% sure that you have put together the right material for the group. Such situations reduce your confidence, your credibility, and your ability to make an impact. However, what if your audience is new to you and is thousands of kilometers away?
For my workshops in Amsterdam I only knew one person in each group, and that was by email or from the Philips internal social media network Connect Us. In order to prepare I took advantage of online tools and used FluidSurveys (www.fluidsurveys.com) to design a survey. I ask questions on various items related to presenting, and asked my contacts to share the survey link with their teams. I am happy to say the response rate was excellent. The survey results helped me to better tailor my material to my audiences, so I immediately felt connected and I think they did too. Using some of the survey data in my presentation also made it more engaging.
So, if you are ever in a similar situation (and before the starting gun goes off), try using an online survey tool to help you know your audience better.
Refuse to be boring