Delivering your presentation

Adapt to Your Audience

This is a guest post from Christy of The Empowered Speaker. Like us, Christy coaches speakers to be more impressive and successful. Also like us, that means she often has to endure presentations that aren’t quite up to scratch – she shares one such experience with us…

One of the most important abilities you can have as a presenter is the ability to adapt to your audience. I attended a two hour Nielsen training recently. The training was divided into one hour of overview and 1 hour of hands on training.

Before the training even began, there were a few red flags that should have immediately caused the instructor to adjust his training plan to better adapt to the audience.

1. The training was on a Friday afternoon from 1pm – 3pm.
2. The class was made up of high performance individuals who were already familiar with Nielsen.
3. Participants were actively working on other projects on their laptops before the class.

First of all, training on a Friday afternoon is never a good idea. People are thinking about their weekend plans and trying to complete any work before the end of the day. Secondly, if participants are already actively working before the class begins, you can assume this behavior will continue during the training.

Here are the changes I would recommend to the instructor for future training sessions:

1. If Friday is the only day available for training, move the training to the morning. Minds are fresher in the morning and people will still feel as if they have the rest of the day to finish other work.
2. Acknowledge the participants are already familiar with Nielsen and therefore condense the overview to 15 minutes. The remaining overview content can be weaved into the hands on portion of the training. The detail of the overview will make more sense in context of hands on learning.
3. Extend the hands on portion of the training (by default once you condense the overview). If participants are actively training on the content of the session, this does not allow them time to multitask on other projects during the training. In a setting of high performance individuals, they are most interested in how to execute the new changes versus hearing about the reason for the change.

The key to being able to adapt to your audience is knowing your material well enough to make adjustments mid stream. Every presenter should present with the audience in mind. If you are not meeting their needs, you are wasting everyone’s time.


christyChristy Demetrakis is President and founder of The Empowered Speaker, a communication skills training company. Through her keynotes and workshops, she coaches companies and individuals to effectively develop a message and communicate the benefits of their product or service. Read more of Christy’s blog articles at


Thanks Christy – regular readers of our blog will recognise that the speaker in the story had missed the first key part of any presentation prep – FIT. It’s a great reminder that one of the many considerations you must take into account is the context of your presentation – when it is, what’s happening before and after it, and what else your audience might be thinking about.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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