What does your audience want and need?
It was the Humor Conference. The speaker was a well known humor writer. He was scheduled to deliver a 45 minute presentation about writing humor. At least that’s what the program guide stated. I attended this workshop because I wanted to learn HOW to write funnier stories.
Anyone who registers for a Humor Conference is already convinced of the need to use humor in their work. The attendees at this conference included teachers, health care workers, consultants, writers, trainers and even business managers. I don’t recall meeting any bankers or government bureaucrats. Several people had a generous supply of red noses to share with new acquaintances.
The humor writer started his presentation by addressing the question about “why humor was important”.
These thoughts went through my mind. Yeah, we get it. That’s why we’re here. Please move on to explain the techniques about HOW to write humor.
While he continued to speak about the WHY I perused the handout materials and it looked like good tips about the HOW were planned.
At 20 minutes into his presentation I lost my patience at listening to the WHY of humor and raised my hand. When he acknowledged me, I stood up and suggested that we were there because we already embraced the WHY. We really wanted the HOW and I was concerned that he might not have enough time to adequately cover the techniques indicated in his program materials. Please skip to the HOW portion of the presentation so we won’t miss out.
Clearly this presenter was unwilling or unable to adapt because he failed to address my question and request. He simply carried on with his (poorly) planned presentation which included another 10 minutes talking about the WHY.
When the time was up - much to his apparent surprise - there were still a few pages of tips to cover and he cut his presentation short.
I left that presentation feeling cheated because I didn’t hear what I really wanted. In addition when I expressed my feelings to the presenter he ignored me and my message.
I understand that he was a writer – not a presenter. Many writers are asked to speak because of their profound writing, but what some conference organizers don’t realize is that writing and speaking are related but two very different skill sets.
There are three key points to this post:
Understand and address the real needs and wants of your audience.
Be prepared to adapt if your audience indicates that you need to change tactics. (He didn’t need to accept my opinion. He could have polled the audience about their interest.)
Just because a person is an expert on their topic doesn’t mean that they can present it well.
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