Good preparation includes researching the audience. As we’ve established before, your speech or presentation is not about you, it’s about the audience – and, in order to give them maximum benefit, you have got to know who they are.
There is no point in delivering a witty speech full of literary and cultural references if your audience turns out to be a group of visitors from abroad whose understanding of English is mainly confined to business language. Your presentation on the finer points of web design and search-engine optimisation will not be appreciated by an audience of pensioners who want to learn how to use the internet to keep in touch with their families. And, as the cartoon illustrates, you will get nowhere trying to sell Easter egg solutions to Father Christmas.
Before you start writing your speech or presentation, think about its objective: are you there to inform, persuade and/or entertain the people in front of you? Then, as you’re composing your talk, keep constantly in mind who your listeners are going to be, so you can pitch what you’re saying at a level that is most likely to engage them.
Amongst other lessons in public speaking (and life), we can learn from Bridget Jones the dangers of not thinking through who is in the audience: