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Become an Engaging Presenter

Lesson 8 of 15

Know Your Audience


Become an Engaging Presenter

Lesson 8 of 15

Know Your Audience


Lesson Info

Know Your Audience

So here's my Know Your Audience experience. I need to know my audience. How do I know my audience? And this is what I did. I talked to the producers here. I talked to Chris a lot. Chris produced this show, and I was like, Chris, who's the audience? And Chris told me, and he said, these are the people that we are looking to have a presentation class on. This is what we think they might want, what do you think? And so, I always go to the person who asked me to do the presentation first. What if it is your boss? What if it is a coworker? Ask them what they think it should be about. If you're literally pitching to a client, just like in an interview, you can ask, what are you looking for? I work for a lot of designers who present their ideas for interviews, and they literally show their designs. It's okay to say to that employer, I know that we're gonna be doing 30 minutes of my presentation. What points are you looking for me to hit? Who's gonna be in that room? Is it gonna be just people...

who are designers? Is it gonna be people on the marketing team? Will it be engineers? How do I know my audience, and what do I do? So, I become private investigator. I'm a great private investigator. I'm also really nosy, so I love that. So I went on CreativeLive, and I went around, and I started talking to people, and I was like, who's my audience 'cause I need to know that. So be that private investigator. I also know that this is about technology. There are people online, there are people in the studio audience. So knowing how I built my presentation, I knew my audience and I knew this: I might have you do a few exercises today, but normally, when I do a class about presentation, I had people pair up. We do group exercises, we do all those other things. I can't do that because I don't wanna have someone online go, well, I don't have a partner. Like this is literally someone online right now. (the audience laughs) This is, and so, unless they have a pet and possibly a goldfish 'cause they'll have a longer attention span, they don't have that opportunity. So know that about my audience. So I'll have you do a couple of things. I use certain exercises to change the audience, change your physical movements, so break down some of those barriers, but I can't do a bunch of team exercises, it's too much. So I know my audience. The other thing that I love to do is surveys. How many of you have done a presentation and actually sent a survey out? One person, I love that! It's amazing, one person of the 2,000 people in our audience. It's amazing! It really helps you get to know your audience. I put a survey out. You may not get a lot of responses. I was fortunate, but I had a ton of people look at this 'cause, like I said, I'm nosy, so I threw it at everybody. I put it into my social media, and I got the survey results. So I wanted to know who's watching this, and this is who you are today. It would be hilarious is you're like, that's not me. But this is what I found out about my audience. I asked a question. Great presenters are born with the ability to connect with an audience, it's not a learned skill. That was my first question on the survey. And 91% of you believed that that's not true. So I knew the majority of my audience believes in growth mindset, that you can learn something, that you're not just born with a talent. I am not born with this. I had to learn everything. I had to feel comfortable, and I continue to grow. There are things that I do that aren't effective, and I get better each time I present, and I learn from that. But you have to be able to be comfortable learning from that. So that's what I learn, my audience knows that that's now true. Otherwise, this would be a class on just do what I do, or watch videos on engaging presenters and just copy them. But it's not true, you can actually learn that. Or it would be, listen, you weren't born with it, sorry. Thank you, but we're gonna have somebody born with this talent do the presentation for the company. That would be so weird, be hilarious and be like, listen, here's your new business card, it's says, non-presenter. I don't know, it would be hilarious. Okay, the next question I asked was, what makes a great presentation. It's a lot of what you guys were talking about today. And what I realized was, it's about a clear, concise message, and it had a lot to do with being an engaging presenter. What was really fun was the fact that about 1/4 of the people talked about the fact that it has to be really about technology, and that's what we're talking about today. I don't need to have funny slides! I don't need to do that. I can, but I don't have to. It's about what I do and the message I give you. Some of the others were amazing. They gave us some really nice insight into what people think. A lot of it was empathy with the audience. A lot of it was being really passionate about the message. One of them said, free food. So I thought that was great. So it gave me an idea of who the audience was, and what they think is important. Someone was hungry when they took the survey! (the audience laughs) Then I asked, what makes a poor presentation. And what we noticed, though, is, I don't care, it doesn't matter about the technology in order for it to be great presentation. But if you make it all about the technology, and it doesn't work, it immediately becomes a poor presentation. So that let me know right away, and that's why I made the decision very early on in the build, it's not gonna be a crazy deck. This whole presentation has, I think, 32 slides or something. That's not a whole lot. I'm not reading stuff, I'm not referring to a lot of stuff, it was literally just about reference a few things and talk about what I think is important in a presentation. That was it, so I knew that. Some of the things that came up were, failure to connect with the audience, lack of trust. One of the things that came up was arrogance and disdain for the audience, which I loved. It would be hilarious to go on and be like, welcome, and that's part of the vocal quality, that's the tone in my voice. That's the variety. Here's the tone, we color our voice, we talk about the timber of our voice. There's a huge difference between hi! And hi. There are all important aspects of how I present and engage you and break those barriers down. These are the things I know about my audience. This is what works, this is what doesn't. So I know now how to start to put information together. I also asked how many presentations people have seen and done. You are an experienced group. We all work in a world now where we get presentations a lot, where we have to give them. So it's important for me to understand, I'm not talking to all novices. I'm not starting from the beginning and saying like, here's how you speak and this is how you move. I give you some examples of the value of that, but I know must of you know that already, but you're gonna go out, and you're gonna research more, and you're gonna work on it. And recognize that this position is something I don't practice unless I practice it. It's the same thing. My parents were very, very good about teaching me how to sit in a chair properly 'cause now that I'm a little bit older, I don't have the aches and pains 'cause I wanna sit like this. But if I don't practice that, my body doesn't move in that way. So I know that people here are actually pretty experienced. And the last question I asked, even though we have a huge experienced group that's my audience, a majority of them feel they're weak presenters. So how do you literally present 10 more more times, but still continue to feel you're weak? And part of that is because we don't do the things that we can to be a better presenter over and over again. I teach classes on a regular basis at General Assembly. So at least once or twice a week, I'm teaching a class to a certain group. I built those classes. So I can go in, and I can teach the same class over and over again, but it's a different audience, it's often a different classroom, and it's a different day. So I have to remember that, and I have to improve, and I have to build on what I do. Otherwise, that message for me becomes really complacent, and I'm like, here you go, class number 472, lalalalala, right? You have to remember that. Weak presenters, strong presenters, why were they weak or why are they strong? This is what people said. The weak one said it's 'cause they're an introvert, and we've already cleared that up, it's not about you. You get to be an extrovert with the message. You get to share and help people, even if you're shy, shy people are allowed to help people, that's what I heard. So now that message is not about you. Strong presenter said that they were confident, and they had a lot of experience, and they said, I've done this for 15-plus years, 10-plus years, and the responses for the strong presenters were, I know how to make eye contact, and I know how to speak loud and clear. The weak presenter said, it's hard for me to command people's attention. I don't like having everyone look at me. That's gonna be a problem. Unless you present like this. Hello, this is my presentation. But that happens a lot 'cause we see that and we know that physically. But the number one response I got for why are you strong or weak, the strong presenter said, 'cause they have experience. The weak presenter said, not enough experience. And I would argue what that experience is. Is one presentation enough experience? Is 200? One is enough to start to grow and be a better presenter. But none of the responses mentioned, I'm strong or weak because I get to share a message, I know how to effectively communicate, I understand my body, I understand my voice, and I understand the value in storytelling. So that told me the audience focuses a lot on traditional presentations. Get the message out there, share and get off the stage! Hurry up and go versus what's the value in telling a real story. So that gave me my audience, which was great. So now I know who you are, and I know where all of you live, and I have your telephone numbers, I'm just kidding.

Class Description

Does your work require you to give presentations? Are you just getting through them and hoping for the best but not quite hitting the mark? 

Are you building decks to pitch your ideas and to present to clients, but feel as though your presentation skills are mediocre at best? 

Have you lost out on opportunities because you failed to connect with your audience? It’s time to learn how to improve your presentation skills and to start actually enjoying the entire process. 

Join former Late Night with Conan O’Brien performer, accomplished career coach, and small business owner Andrew Whelan to learn how to be an engaging, dynamic presenter. 

This class is short, actionable, and something you can always reference before you go into a pitch. 

In this class you will learn how to: 

  • Prepare your story and rehearse 
  • Prioritize your message 
  • Improve your vocal strength and physical presence 
  • Get emotionally connected with your audience 
  • Keep the momentum going to develop a rhythm 
  • Read cues, connect with your audience and present yourself as an authority 
  • Manage anxiety and handle the unexpected 



This is my second time as an audience member for Creative Live, and I have to tell you all - I'm hooked! I decided to give it a shot because I'm genuinely interested in the subject being covered, it is a wonderful networking opportunity, and its free for audience members - so I receive the course and the bonus materials. For those of you that are nervous about the cameras like I was, let me assure you that you hardly even notice them. If you ever watched a few courses before becoming an audience member, you can tell how little the audience is even shown. Now as for Mr. Whelan - CL couldn't have picked a better presenter to present about presentations. His knowledge and experience reflects in his presentation - he's warm, personable, and if he did rehearse and prepare the way he recommends, it's not noticeable. He's natural and you can relate to every point made. I hope there are other Andrew Whelan courses in the future. I highly recommend CL - as a participant and an audience member - for their variety of course content and bonus materials that I continue to use in my day-to-day. I strongly recommend any class or workshop that includes Andrew Whelan. His advice, experience, and genuine empathetic approach to helping others become better, is invaluable. Thank you Andrew and Thank you Creative Live!

Carolyn Winslow

Thank you! You gave me some fresh ideas to share when I am presenting, and when I'm helping folks be more comfortable when they need to speak in front of others. Good examples, to the point without fluff, and even a bit entertaining. Thanks!

Jack Foxe

This was my first live audience experience, and wow was i shocked how engaged i was! Im someone who has an awful attention span so the fact that i was listening and taking everything in was fantastic. Thanks Andrew for some great tips and making me laugh and thanks to Creative Live for having me in the audience. If anyone who interacts with other people on a regular basis this class is essential!