How To Connect With Your Audience

by drjim on May 26, 2008

Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

So let’s talk turkey: no matter how complex or technical the information that you are trying to communicate is, nor what setting you are trying to communicate it in, just how can you go about getting what you have to say to “stick” in your audience’s minds? What can you say or do that is going to get them to talk about it, think about it long after you have completed what you have to say?

There are several things that you have to do an the first is to make sure that you connect with your audience. How to do that is what seems to escape all too many technical folks. Stephen Kosslyn in his book Clear and to The Point lays out a number of different ways to do this. Here are two of my favorites:

Your communication, no matter what form it takes, is going to have the greatest impact when you present neither too much nor too little information.

Think about this one for just a moment. It’s very simple to understand; however, it’s very hard to do correctly. Ultimately I believe that the key here is to start from the end: what do you want them to walk away with? You should then add everything that will be needed to make this happen and take away anything that does not contribute to this goal.

Your communication requires you to have prior knowledge of your audience’s pertinent concepts, jargon, and symbols.

In the end, you’ve got to know your audience. If you present your technical information in a way that is different from how they communicate, then you are requiring them to work in order to understand what you are trying to say and there is a good chance that they may be unwilling to do this. Assuming that your audience knows more than they do or less than they really do will result in the communication of your technical material falling on deaf ears. Talk to them in a way that they want to be talked to.

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