The type and level of preparation will vary considerably when the type of audience is taken into account. Giving a talk to a senior management grouping of English speaking executives will, for me, be very different to preparing a public speaking session for young schoolchildren who speak English as a second language. It is important to consider the choice of words and phrases, to ensure these are easily understood by the audience, and presented in a way that leaves them with the benefit they are seeking.
Age plays a factor here as experience will vary considerably from the schoolchildren to the executives. One group will likely have had far greater exposure in their lives to presentations as an audience member and presenting themselves, whilst one may be only at the starting point of their journey. Levels of attention and interaction will also be highly varied, in the sense that some groups will be very engaged due to their inherent desire to be at your talk. Some groups, on the other hand, may be at the talk because they are made to be there, and will show far fewer signs of interest or engagement. It can feel like you are fighting a losing battle, but it is important in these instances to asses beforehand which group you will be talking to and to tailor your presentation accordingly.
Being based in a multicultural society it is crucially important to consider the different backgrounds of my potential audience. In most scenarios I expect to be talking to varied groups from an array of countries, religious groupings, cultural backgrounds and gender. Many hot button issues that make great case studies are ones which are actively avoided because of sensitivity of one form or another. Of course, this doesn’t mean you skirt all around al potentially difficult situations! It is essential that these are afforded the care they deserve and are dealt with in an appropriate manner, trying to use these as good talking points without necessarily inferring your opinion of them.
Every presenter has an idea of how much information they deem useful before giving a talk. Some want to know a huge volume of information whilst others feel comfortable with the bare minimum. This really is a personal preference and will be influenced by your style as a presenter, the type of presentation you are giving and your experience in that area. If you feel you are going in to a presentation with a limited set of information but are not able to get more, you may want to consider adding extra information, details, case studies or discussion points which will afford you the ability to branch out as you present. You may then have a chance to avoid an issue you see will cause offence by including another, still giving the group the same outcomes. This all links back to your preparation, making sure you have a wide range of material and resources to refer to in order to do the best job you can.
This is the second post in a weekly series looking at some ideas around presenting and preparation. All thoughts are the personal views of the author. Follow me on Twitter @s_gibbins