How to sniff out your audience before you present

Frankie Kemp

24 April 2019

As I wrote in this post here, it’s vital to give your audience a motivator to listen to you, otherwise called a ‘WHY?’ or Key Message.  This tells the audience how they’d benefit from your content, responding to the  WIIFM – ‘What’s in it for me?’ (from the audience’s point of view)

You’ll stand out from everyone else if you can weave your audience’s needs into your talk.

For example, let’s say I have an audience who want to export to Brazil and I open up with the history of my company.

I’ve completely missed the mark.

However, if I immediately reveal to my listeners how to export to Brazil, I’m giving them what they want and need.


Ask the right questions

As ex-speechwriter for Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Administration in New York, Brian Rashid knows a thing or two about presenting.

He shared with me some tips on how to work out your audience’s ‘WHY?’.

Brian advises asking these 3 questions:

  1. What is your biggest current frustration around [issue / product / service] ?
  2. If that frustration resolved itself, how would your professional / personal life be better?
  3. What have you tried to do in the past to resolve this situation and how has it worked out?

Who do your ask these questions to?

  1. Get friendly with the conference organiser. They’ll often be in tune with the audience’s needs and frustration and will just tell you what pain the audience has.
  2. If the organiser can’t answer these questions for you, ask them to send out the questions above to a small group sample.
  3. Use the event hashtag on social media to contact individuals directly.
  4. Dip into audience profiles to discover the answers. I used this before speaking at Product Tank on ‘How to Influence when you’ve no Authority’ for Product Managers. Participants would dive into their pains and passions on the event’s portal (professional passions, of course. It’s not eHarmony. It’s Meetup)
  5. If the event is a stay-over, get there a couple of days beforehand. Often there are pre-event drinks or meet ups, which will give you the chance of surveying say, 5 people. You can then revisit your content and weave the WIIFM through it.

So no butt sniffing necessary. Ask these questions and get a whiff of the delightful aroma of clarity.

A clear message is unusual to incorporate, simple to do and COMPLETELY changes how your audience listens to you.


Got any other ways you use to work your audience out? Use the comments below to get the discussion going…

Leave a Comment.

Please note that for privacy reasons your email address is not publicly displayed.

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

Share This: