Taking steps to understand your audience usually puts you on a promising path for a memorable meeting or presentation. But what if your careful preparation is not enough? What if you still miss that connection with the crowd?
Here’s something to consider: Is that crowd of expectant faces made up of people working in vastly different functions? Cindy the senior VP just wants the big picture. Hannah in HR wants to be updated on your projected needs for new talent. Dan the data engineer will wake up only when you roll out some hard numbers. We all face this scenario at some point. So how do we craft an authentic, succinct story that will serve many different audience needs?
Multiple Characters, Multiple NeedsFor audiences with widely diverse priorities, you have to grow your story to accommodate these diverse needs. This means you must introduce multiple characters into your narrative (as part of the why of your story). Each character should speak to every major need within your audience.
Sometimes, you may be able to find one common conflict and resolution for your whole audience, but this could be tricky to pull off. Your best approach is to briefly call out key needs of your diverse audience through multiple characters and conflicts.
Good Storytellers Will Connect With EveryoneCan you always give the same amount of attention to everyone in your audience? Certainly not. But well-prepared communicators always seek to address audience members with different needs and expectations (certainly all senior executives or major stakeholders). You must grow your story to include multiple characters and conflicts that will invite a response from these various people. Demonstrating that you have considered their concerns and challenges is a surefire way to win the room and sell your ideas.
For more strategies on presenting to diverse audiences, come to my session at the ATD 2019 International Conference & Exposition on Tuesday, May 21 at 1 p.m., Business Storytelling: One Size Doesn’t Fit All.