What If The Audience Is Diverse? No, I Mean REALLY…

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.  At that point, who cares?  He’s a mile away and you have his shoes…”

–     A funny, if inappropriate, t-shirt slogan, and a biiiiiiig stretch to today’s point…

The Diff returns, and I’ve decided to see if I can really stretch the connection between the headline, the quote and the message…  I mean, it’s been a few weeks, I should be rested, right?

Speakers need to be relatable.  They need to find or forge a connection to their audience.  So, walking a mile in their shoes (but not with the intent of stealing them) is a good start.  The hard part is when you find yourself looking at 50 pairs of shoes, some brand new, some completely broken in — all different sizes, styles and functionality.  And in 20 minutes together, you somehow have to log as many steps in each pair as you can.

Yikes!  Enough with the forced analogy, ok?  Let’s get real.

You’ve been asked to speak to a group.  “The audience is very diverse in their level of sophistication, experience, funding, understanding of their challenge and access to staff and resources all varies greatly, ” your sponsor says.  And you’re thinking, “Hmmmmm, this isn’t like I’ve been asked to speak to the Salesman Club or the Rotary.”

Except it is.

Every audience is diverse.  No matter how much they might look alike, sound the same and come from a similar background, each person comes to each interaction with their own expectations, experience (baggage?), attitude and perspective.  And you’ve got :20 to connect with as many of them as you can in the deepest possible way.  You were invited, you accepted and here you are, in front of 50 faces — all staring at you with a different idea of who they are, who you are and just what they’re supposed to glean from you in your twenty minutes together.

A good place to start is to remember that you were asked to speak for a reason.  And, everyone of them wants something from their investment of time.

So, what do we do?  How do we craft a short message to register with 26.4 different personality types and 45.8 different pre-conceived ideas in a room of 50 people?

We ask.

And, then, we break it down.

“What is it you’d like to have at the end of this time that you don’t have now?”  It’s a powerful way to open any meeting.

“It seems like _____, ______, and ______ are the hot topics, right?  How about if we use them as a framework for this first discussion, and then we circle back to each of you to make sure you’re getting value from this time together?”

That’s just one example.

The point is this:  The audience is always diverse, no matter how generic it seems, and you have something they want or need, so why not let them tell you what it is?  It’ll make the experience more valuable for them, and easier for you!


  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Comments

  1. This is gold! Great insight for how to make sure you are staying relevant to your audience, to provide the most value as possible. This will keep you engaged with your client and/or audience. Thanks Steve!

    • Thanks, Cari! Relevance is more harder (technical term!) than ever before — whether we’re trying to be relevant or stay relevant if we can earn it in the first place… I appreciate you joining the conversation!

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.