Research: Building on Shared Experience

Hand talking
Learning about your audience before you meet them and before you speak with them is key. Whether meeting your new girlfriend's parents for the first time; spending eight figure marketing budgets or beginning work for a new company this is where research becomes so important. Consider researching the past and the future of an organization, new in-laws or your next employer.

If you are delivering a presentation to a group it's best that you take the time to learn about them and learn as much as you can. Tailor your message for that group and understand them enough so that you can make the experience special for them and yourself. Also keep in mind that your assumptions may not be accurate. Gauge your audience before you begin. This can be done by tracking a #hashtag at an event, sitting in the audience listening to the chatter or meeting and mingling with people when possible.

I watched one of the internet's top speakers give a talk in Vancouver last year. It was sad to watch as they fell on their face with a poorly planned talk that meandered aimlessly and talked down to the audience. At one point the speaker said that it was best to dress like your audience. If you are under-dressed it looks like you don't respect your audience while if you are over dressed it can look as if you are superior to them. The funny part was that this speaker was under-dressed therefore insinuating that they didn't respect us. This speaker has one of the most powerful voices in the social web; yet misses connecting genuinely with their audience in real life.

For me connecting with your audience, understanding them and being able to change your presentation on the fly to move with them help guide presenters to effective public speaking. Recently I had the opportunity to present one of my main talks to students at Kwantlen University. This is an evolving talk that I've given three or four times now. When using material that's been presented before customization is essential.


I recently spoke with a higher educational institute in a particularly unusual position. They are a satellite of a much larger entity that is based in another country. They cater to a large number of students from outside of Canada and they have an amazing location with a solid educational programs.

The opportunity to give guidance and advice to organizations especially in education is something I enjoy. Social Media's disruptive power doesn't always blend well with the realities of 20th century  organizational structures. Researching what others are doing and what works in your vertical/industry is  key to understanding how social media campaigns and tactics can work for you. Change them, morph them and customize them to your organization to find the success that can only be found when turning our world upside down and enlisting our users to tell the stories we so desperately want prospective customers to hear. Wow them.

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