Before Giving a Presentation, Consider Your Audience’s Assumptions


When you give a presentation, you’re trying to change your audience’s beliefs about something. So it’s crucial to consider what assumptions your audience holds about your topic — and how you want those to change.

For example, let’s say you’re delivering a presentation to potential university donors. You want to move them from being skeptical that the school will make good use of the money to feeling excited about the innovative research they could help support. This shift will encourage them to donate, so keep it in mind when planning your presentation.

Ask yourself, “How do I want them to behave differently? How must their attitudes or emotions change before their behavior can change?”

Acknowledge the difficulty of what you’re asking them to do in order to accept your idea. If you want to make it clear that you understand their point of view, explicitly acknowledge their concerns and outline a concrete idea to address them.

Focusing on what people care about will make them much more open to change.