Tips for adapting a winning presentation for distinct audiences

Your ‘big idea’ is a home run, but how can you turn that into a touchdown or a hole-in-one for a new batch of spectators? Follow these tips for tweaking and repurposing your core message.

There’s something euphoric about nailing a talk.

When you end a presentation feeling certain your audience is on board with you, it’s as thrilling as hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning.

Crafting and delivering a winning talk can be exhilarating and empowering, but it can also be elusive and rare. Once you create a successful talk, you can rely on it again and again, though; just tailor it for each audience.

Keep these important tips in mind when you’re modifying a presentation for new eyes and ears:

1. Redo your audience analysis.

You have to move your listeners, stirring emotion in them and, in turn, generating empathy.

Multiple studies have shown that empathy results in “helping” behaviors—doing things that will benefit people around them (in this case, the things you urge your audience to do).

An analysis examines who your audience members are. Beyond the professional positions they hold, ask yourself: What are listeners’ fears, hopes, goals, hobbies and hesitations? How might they resist the ideas you present? What subjects might enthrall them?

Once you understand those factors, you can incorporate stories relevant to their interests and needs.

If you’ve crafted a successful talk, you’ve probably conducted an audience analysis. In repurposing your presentation, do a new analysis for your second audience. Replace stories tailored to your first group with ones that will matter to your second.

2. Set clear about your key message.

Make sure you know what your “Big Idea” is—and how to articulate it clearly and succinctly.

Is it relevant to your new audience? If not, edit it. What do you want your listeners to think about as they leave?

Use your big idea as a filter when you edit. In tweaking your talk, make sure the key takeaway hasn’t been obscured.

3. Adjust your call to action.

Your call to action (CTA) states explicitly what you want audience members to do after they leave. Even the most eloquent speechwriting will be fruitless if people leave not knowing what they’re supposed to do next.

When it comes to presentation CTAs, one size does not fit all. When you repurpose a presentation, think about what you want from your new audience. Then decide what language will resonate with and motivate them.

4. Keep your slides simple.

Slideshows help the audience “see” what you’re saying. Visuals boost retention and appeal to visual learners (65 percent of an average audience).

If you want to ease the process of repurposing a presentation, keep your slides simple and highly conceptual.

If you include only the information that supports your ideas, it will be universally relevant. That will minimize the editing of the slides for your next talk. Keep your presentation accessible so you can use those key insights again and again.

Nancy Duarte is principal at Duarte Inc. A version of this post first ran on the Duarte blog.

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