Audience segmentation is helpful — but there’s more complexity to human beings than that. To make a personal connection, you have to bond with what it is in people that makes them human. Take time to analyze who they really are and you will gain valuable insights.
Remember, people you don’t know are difficult to influence.
At the beginning of a movie, the hero’s likeability is established. The same applies to a presentation. Successful Hollywood screenwriter Blake Snyder coined the phrase “save the cat” to describe a hero’s likeability. Snyder says that a “save the cat” scene is “where we meet the hero and he or she does something—like saving a cat—that defines who he is and makes the audience like him.” By answering the questions on the right, you’ll uncover what makes your hero likeable.
Liking your audience members is the first step in being genuine with them.
Study them. What would a walk in their shoes feel like? What keeps them up at night? What are they called to do that will make a difference on this earth? Imagine their lives by the day, hour, and minute.
Don’t forget, they are only human, living chaotic lives. They might be worrying about a sick child, might have slept poorly in a hotel bed, might be struggling with financial problems, or just might feel they’re not in their groove. Think about how your idea will take away some of the pressure they’re feeling if they act on it. Consider where they are.
These questions help you think beyond what they do and focus on who they are. There’s a difference. It’s not enough to know their titles. If you’re speaking at a Human Resources event where your audience will mainly consist of Directors of Human Resources, look online and get an idea of what their typical salaries are. Do they make enough money to manage? How do these people most likely spend their paychecks? Does their role tend to attract people with certain temperaments? Are they impulsive or systematic?
Keep answering the questions until you move away from what your audience members do for a job and begin to acquaint yourself with who they are as people. You can imagine their childhood. What games did they play? What was home life like? What TV shows shaped their psyche? Anything that will generate a connection.
Your goal is to figure out what your audience cares about and link it to your idea. Here are some more insights into public speaking and connecting with your audience.