How understanding obstacles can lead to creating great content - The Pickering Group

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How understanding obstacles can lead to creating great content

If you want to capture your audience’s attention – and their hearts and minds – then relevant, engaging content is going to be a top priority. If you understand your audience, you’re that much closer to creating content that really resonates with them.

Knowing how they take their coffee or picking up on some cues during pre-presentation schmoozing is helpful, but unlikely to be enough. The ultimate aim of presenting is to move your audience from point A (where they are now) to point B (some future state that achieves your specific objective). Understanding your audience’s obstacles will help you develop the most persuasive content to get them there.

Anticipating obstacles significantly increases your chances of success

It may seem like a negative place to spend too much time, but a key part of making your presentation compelling is anticipating  why your audience may not want to go to your point B. Obstacles come in a variety of forms. They could be:

  • Rational: concerned with the costs involved, limited resources or competing priorities
  • Emotional: as a result of misconceptions, biases, moral codes or misinformation
  • Situational: fatigued audiences, noisy or distracting environments
  • Personal: related to your reputation, integrity and likeability 

Understanding obstacles isn’t going to guarantee your arrival, with all of them in tow, at your point B. But if you know what you’re likely to be up against, you can at least come up with some strategies to navigate around them. 

Building your content based on this understanding 

Situational obstacles – like how late in the day you’re presenting, or the temperature of the room – can’t always be controlled for, but great content can go a long way to combatting the majority of obstacles. 

When you’re creating your content, think strategically about what objections your audience might have. What’s the pushback, and why might you say no in their shoes? What worries or arguments can you cut off at the pass or broach head-on? Let’s say that your audience is likely to have doubts about how a team your size could deliver these results… so front foot it. Show how you can, or your plans to scale resource as required. Objections can be some of the most powerful allies in your presentation content, especially when addressed directly, and when you’ve provided evidence or data to support your arguments. 

It’s impossible to build trust, make your message compelling, or persuade someone to take the action you want them to if you don’t know what drives them or turns them off. With this though, you can address concerns in your content and have a greater chance of showing that you’re offering a robust idea or solution that meets their needs.

Talk to them!

One way to gain a deep understanding of your audience is to ask them directly what they want to hear from you. Many people are reluctant to do this because they don't want to appear ignorant or unsure of themselves, but there is nothing wrong with asking your audience for input! In fact, doing so shows that you care about their needs and are committed to delivering value for them.

I’ve long liked this piece of advice, but I do get some resistance when I bring it up. After all, if we’re presenting, shouldn’t we be the experts?

First of all, being an expert means you’ve got lots of practice asking questions. That’s how you got to where you are! And secondly, don’t be lazy. We’re often led down pathways of assumption and that can be dangerous. Test your assumptions and see what you can learn.

For more support in inspiring confidence, selling your ideas and driving action from your audience, talk to me about my programmes. 

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