Home > Leadership > Communication > Please don’t overestimate your audience’s knowledge

Please don’t overestimate your audience’s knowledge

By: Dave Berkus


Definite Guide to Organizing Seminars and Conferences

When making a presentation to a new audience, the smart thing to do, if there is an opportunity, is to ask your audience by show of hands, if they have some knowledge of your industry or space.  And if you are making a one-to-one presentation, don’t start without a conversation about the other person’s knowledge of your space.

Asking the important question creates a connection

With that question you create an immediate connection with your audience even before beginning to present, and you know better how much explanation you will need to accompany your most elementary statements.  And you will not insult the industry experts by appearing to talk down to them.

How I ask the question

When I give a keynote address, I often start by asking my audience, by raise of hands, to tell me how many of them are angel or VC investors, how many are entrepreneurs, and how many are service providers such as attorneys.  Immediately, I can tell how to orient the explanations behind my pre-cast slides, based upon the response.  It always works, and the audience should appreciate that the speaker takes the time to orient the talk to the audience, not the other way around.

 What to do with a split audience

If your audience is composed of PhD’s in organic chemistry, would you want to explain the most elementary teachings in the field?  On the other hand, it is most often true that only one or a few of your audience members might be knowledgeable in your area of expertise.  Address them directly with “I hope you will put up with me as I spend a few moments explaining some of our elementary knowledge to the others.”  That makes these experts a part of your presentation, able to nod their heads when you do explain these things to the others, instead of looking a bit disdainful that you don’t recognize that there are experts in the room.

Published: March 4, 2021

Source: Reprinted with permission of Berkonomics

Trending Articles

Stay up to date with
Avatar photo

Dave Berkus

Dave Berkus is a noted speaker, author and early stage private equity investor. He is acknowledged as one of the most active angel investors in the country, having made and actively participated in over 87 technology investments during the past decade. He currently manages two angel VC funds (Berkus Technology Ventures, LLC and Kodiak Ventures, L.P.) Dave is past Chairman of the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest angel networks in the United States. Dave is author of “Basic Berkonomics,” “Berkonomics,” “Advanced Berkonomics,” “Extending the Runway,” and the Small Business Success Collection. Find out more at Berkus.com or contact Dave at dberkus@berkus.com

Related Articles