People in your audiences want to feel special, to feel that you understand them and their needs. You can create a presentation that connects with a particular audience by tailoring your existing content to connect with them.
Would you like to “look behind the curtain” and see my process? It may give you some ideas that you can use for your own presentations.
I recently prepared a “new” presentation that I am giving this week to an association of people in veterinarian medicine.
Several months ago a representative of the organization called me to inquire if I might be available to give the closing keynote at their conference. She had found me online and watched my demo video. We discussed the date, what they were looking for as a closing keynote, info on the audience size and composition, and which of my programs would be a good fit. She agreed to my fee (it was a local conference, so there would be no travel or hotel costs).
I sent her a pre-program questionnaire to confirm details and to obtain additional information on issues the audience faced. This included getting contact information for a few people so that I could have brief chats with them on their issues as related to my topic.
As it turned out, the program she had chosen was one of the ones I hadn’t actually written. It was just on my website to see if anyone was interested in it. Well, now someone was, so I needed to prepare something. I already knew that a lot of the content would be recycled from content in other presentations.
A month prior to the conference, I called 3 audience members and took notes on the interviews. I made post-it note highlights and saved them to use in planning later.
Two weeks prior to the conference, I had a keynote planning session.
First I reviewed the pre-program questionnaire and interview notes:
Then, I went to the conference website and printed out the brochure, which first gave me an overview of my place in the conference, and what other people were speaking on:
I noted that I actually knew the person giving the opening keynote, and was familiar with his topic. I also noted the topics for 5 tracks for the breakout sessions (Regulatory, Marketing, Finance & Technology, Customer Service, and Human Resources). I was planning on attending the entire conference and I was the last speaker. As the last speaker, I probably could tie everything together, with a simple statement along the lines of “as you deal with challenges with regulatory issues, marketing . . . you can build greater success with better communication in all those areas.”
At the website, I also noted the theme was “Building Blocks of Success” and the color scheme was gray background with orange accents. I could use that information to tailor the visuals.
Then, I laid it all out . . .
The “Facts for Customization” were the post-it note highlights from the interviews with audience members and from the pre-program questionnaire. I wouldn’t use many of them directly, but they informed my content.
The “Promised Content and Handout:” I had sent a description of the program (which I confirmed was the description in the brochure) and a handout before I had actually worked on the presentation. They needed the handout early, so I determined the 4 supporting points I would make and put those on the handout. My presentation would have to follow the handout.
The “Source of Material:” almost all of the content came from my most recent book, The Respect Virus.
“Previous Presentations:” I wouldn’t be starting from scratch! For 3 of my 4 main points, I had already developed presentation modules that I used in previous presentations.
I had the broad outline, and even some of the specifics for my presentation. Now I had to think about customization. The first place to customize was the opening. I decided to open with 2 short stories about my experiences with veterinarians and communication (which put them in a positive light). I dug up the relevant pet pictures:
Then I needed to make a promise. My promise was simple: If you have better conversations with clients and staff you can have better business with less stress.
I extended on the promise by asking a few “Do you want . . .” questions and then transitioned to previewing the 4 points, using the theme of “Building Blocks of Success” by using the variation, “Building Blocks of Communication,” animating the blocks to come in one at a time:
Another area that I customized was in an audience activity, in which I have the audience work in groups of 2 or 3 applying conversational techniques to cases relevant to their work:
And then, of course, I had to practice! Although, my slot is an hour, I really can only have about 45 minutes of material, as a little time will be taken with an introduction and also at the end, the organizers want a few minutes to wrap up and give away some gift cards. As part of my practice, I made a one-page sheet with notes . . . just in case the PowerPoint didn’t work!
This is my typical process for preparing for a presentation. What is most helpful for you? What do you do differently?