Personally, what I think is the most important thing when it comes to presentation is to know who your audience is. You will not have a successful presentation if you can’t bond effectively with your listeners and it all starts by knowing who will attend your presentation.
Resonate – a book by Nancy Duarte
Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design (the firm behind Al Gore’s presentation “An Inconvenient Truth”) recently released a new book titled “Resonate”. It is a simple book but how effective at teaching you the basics (and more) at making sure that your message in your presentation resonates with the audience. The author argues that in order to “resonate” with your audience you must follow simple rules. One of these rules is: “If a presenter knows the audience’s resonant frequency and tunes to that, the audience will move.
Duarte says that before a presentation, you must know who your audience is by segmenting them in groups. In other words, segment them by answering this question: “Who are they?” You may segment them by lifestyle, knowledge, motivation and desire, values, influence, and respect. That is what I exactly did few weeks ago…
Presenting your research to academics – what’s their background?
I had to present my Masters Degree research to my department, not for defending my thesis, but to demonstrate that my research has a good chance to publish in the upcoming year. My research is titled “Do Political Institutions Affect the Choice of the US Cross-Listing Venue?” Now, since I did my research in the international business department and not finance (despite my work being more a finance discipline type of research) I was presenting to a group of academics with various backgrounds such as economics, finance, political science, strategy, etc. So like usual, I did some very basic and quick research on the background of the individuals assisting my presentation. I asked my research director who will attend the presentation and researched them on the web. I quickly realized that many comes from different background and consequently I would face some difficulties at making my research “resonate” with them if I don’t take this into account.
When I started my presentation, one of the first thing I did is to read the title of my work and say right away that I expect many to be 100% clueless of what my title or research is all about. The second thing I did was not to dive directly in the work/research itself but to take time and define three things:
(1) What is “Cross-Listing”?
(2) What is a “Cross-Listing Venue”?
(3) What do I mean by “Political Institutions”
Again, my title of my work is “Do Political Institutions Affect the Choice of the US Cross-Listing Venue?” (to be available soon on SSRN and my website)
I made sure that everyone understood these three set of terms and the research question. I also tried my best to relate each terms with various research fields. This was really appreciated by my audience. We were all on the same page from the beginning. Then it was easy for me to carry them on through my research. If I had dive in my research from the start, it would have been a major failure…quite early in the presentation!