When it comes to gathering background on your audience to prepare for your presentation or speech, I believe more information is better, not less. The more you know about your audience and its interests, the better you can tailor your remarks to get the outcome you want, be it applause, a recommendation, a sale or simply a go-ahead for your project.
While asking questions of whomever invited you to speak can reveal valuable insights, I recommend you push yourself further to gain a broader perspective. Doing research is much easier than it has ever been, but don’t limit yourself too early in your fact-finding and analysis. You can always discard stuff later. While Google remains a king for gathering all kinds of data, there are also other dozens of other web-based sources like RedZ, Bing, Dogpile, Kissmetrics, and blekko, that can give you visual information and another set of sources to check.
Avoid the potential for embarrassing assumptions when you spend time reviewing the website of the organization you’re addressing and the bios of its key leaders and related industry executives as well. Before I began working with
an energy company, I assumed it was involved with the sale of oil or maybe natural gas. After perusing the website, however, I realized that was not the case!
Gain more perspective by watching any posted videos and seeking out digital and print versions of related industry publications. A visit to the local library can also be worth the effort, as the professionals there can help you discover valuable resources you didn’t know were available. I encourage you to fight efforts to shut down their services and hours.
Try to check out the background and topics of previous speakers who have addressed the organization or group where you’re scheduled to speak. Find out who was well-received and why, as well as who failed to fascinate or worse.
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