Getting to know your audience

know your audience

Do you have the responsibility to ensure a keynote speech goes well, even though you’re not actually the presenter? One of the best ways to ensure a presentation is well received is to know the audience.

Whether your involved in the speech writing or speaker prep there are some key points your presenter needs to know. You had better listen to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and get to know your audience!

Many good speakers fall at the first hurdle- they don’t know the context around who they are presenting to. Here are the key things you need to know about your attendees:

Audience sentiment

– Are they positive or critical of the presentation topic/presenter/company before even hearing one word?

– At what point in the day is the presentation? Are they tired or hungry?


Audience attendance reason

– Are they in the audience because they have to be and therefore pre-disposed to being hard to win-over?

– Have they paid for a ticket and are looking for value-for-money?


Audience demographic

– Are they tech savvy youngsters who respond well to interactive polling and video content scattered though presentations?

– Are they an older demographic who might be won over by well illustrated analytics and proof points?


As an event manager (or someone involved in the planning of the event) this is information you can help gather for the speakers. You can also go to the next step of giving recommendations based on what you know about the attendees.

We were planning a conference for a blue chip company here in Sydney a couple of years ago. Each speaker not only received a print out of the agenda for the day but also a few relevant audience profiles. While their speeches were already written and rehearsed it helped for them to be reminded who they were speaking to. As a result, the presentation before lunch began with “I know you’re all starting to feel those hunger pangs and get restless legs so I promise to keep this as succinct as possible and to get you involved so as to take your mind off the delicious sandwiches coming your way in 20 minutes time….”.

When the audience feels understood and has a connection with the speaker they are much more likely to be active listeners and to have a better experience.

Francesca Peskops