In the comments of a recent post we discussed the importance of knowing your audience.

Many presenters ask their audience at the beginning of the presentation what they’re most interested in. That’s a waste of your audience’s time. At a recent training course, I listened to 22 other people say what they wanted from the course. Half-an-hour of my time listening to information which had little interest for me – and was often a repeat of what other people had said.

In a recent post, Tom Antion suggested:

Phone as many attendees as you can before the program and ask their opinions.

Good advice but it’s a lot of work. It’s easier online. Here are some ideas:

  1. Invite members of the audience to fill in a questionnaire on your website. For an example see
  2. Send members of the audience an e-mail asking them to answer a couple of questions.
  3. If you’ve got a blog, write a special blog post for your audience and then invite them (via email) to visit your blog and respond in the comments section.

You don’t always have to research the actual audience. You can ask people who are similar to the audience you’re going to be talking to:

  1. If you’ve got a blog, ask your readers to give you feedback in the comments area.
  2. Visit forums where people similar to your audience hang out, and ask them. If you’re new to the forum do introduce yourself and ask respectfully. I used to belong to a forum for people with lifestyle blocks (small hobby farms). People wanting to start up businesses servicing this sector would sometimes come along and peremptorily start asking questions. People on the forum felt taken advantage of and would tell them so… sometimes less than politely.
  3. Ask a blogger who has an audience similar to the one you’re going to be talking to, if you could guest post or ask them to post the questions on their blog. This also has to be done with care and sensitivity. See this post on ProBlogger on building relationships with other bloggers.

But are all these methods less personal than the individual phone call advocated by Tom Antion? We used to phone every person attending our public courses. But it was very labour intensive. So we decided to have them complete the questionnaire and then follow up with a short phone call. Much less work for us AND course participants started commenting on how much they appreciated our pre-course research. They had never commented when it was just the phone call!

What other ways could you do audience analysis online? Use the comments section to offer your suggestions.

Want to create your most engaging presentation ever?


Plan your presentation with the SpeakerMap™ - a proven system that will have you feeling confident and credible.


Success! You'll soon receive an email from us with a link to step 1 of the SpeakerMap system.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Discover more from Speaking about Presenting

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading