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Learn 8 Rules of Tailoring Your Presentations

Learning the 8 rules of tailoring your presentation, just like any other checklist and playbook, will help optimize your processes and day-to-day work. This guides us so that some tasks would require less cognitive effort.

Having to tailor your presentation for each sales meeting doesn’t have to be a difficult and time-consuming task. As long as you keep your focus on your buyer, ensuring their needs are at the forefront of your presentation, you’re guaranteed a meeting that resonates with your prospects every time.

Find out the 8 rules on how to tailor your presentation to your meet your buyer’s needs.

The story of an elephant and the blind men

A group of blind men ran into a strange animal, an elephant. None of them had met an elephant before. They were curious and said: “Let’s inspect and learn it by touch”. And so they did. The first blind man, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This animal is like a thick snake”. The second one reached its leg and said, “the elephant is a pillar-like tree trunk”. The third blind man placed his hand on the elephant’s side and shouted, “this animal is like a huge wall”. The fourth touched the elephant’s tail and described it as a rope.

All of these blind men were right. Even though the elephant is neither a thick snake, tree trunk, wall, nor rope, each of their point of view was true. Their individual experiences were real and true even though the whole concept of an elephant was left unfinished.

Your customers are blind

In sales, as the concepts and solutions are getting more and more complex, your customers are like the blind men from the story when they are first introduced to your product or service. But unlike the blind men that were curious about the elephant, your customers couldn’t care less about knowing your product. 

That’s why you need to be able to start with something familiar. The blind men might not know the concept of an elephant, but they knew what a snake, pillar, wall, or rope is– and has an idea about how those work and function.  The same goes for your product. Essentially, your buyers may know the features and functionalities your product may offer, but it’s up to you to piece those together and create value.

The most important part of any presentation is the audience.

For any presentation, it’s key to understand your audience’s pain points and how your offering fits in the picture. 

This – finding common ground and piecing the problem and solution together – is what tailoring is. It is rewriting your story to start off from where your customer is now – and then telling them, where your product can take them. This is why you should tailor your presentation.

Learn more about Unleashing the Power of Storytelling in Sales Presentations →

Illustration of sales presentation management

8 Rules of Tailoring Your Presentation

Remember, whether it was a face-to-face or a virtual meeting, the most important part of your presentation is understanding the needs of your audience. Consider everything you do to meet those needs.

1) Understand what your audience is looking for

What does this entail? This means asking questions to gain a better insight as to what brought them to you. Whether that’s getting to know their role or how they ended up finding your product or solution. By doing this, not only do you get to have a deep dive into what your prospect is looking for but also see any opportunities or potential where your offering can bring more value.

2) Focus on your opening

Your audience will make two decisions in the first few seconds of your presentation- will they like you and will they trust you? After those first few seconds, it can be difficult hard to change their impression. So, think carefully about how you start your presentations. Reflect and learn from your experiences. To do well in sales and to be able to build a long-lasting relationship with your buyers, you want people to like you and trust you.

Learn more about

  • How to Begin Your Sales Presentation?
  • 16 Effective Sales Meeting Icebreakers and Techniques →

3) Prepare to answer any questions that might arise

This is something that you can learn from experience but it also is something that your colleagues can help you with. Remember sales is teamwork. Statistically, if you are able to cover 5 of the most commonly asked questions, you are already very well prepared.

Learn more about 7 Key Elements of How to Prepare for a Successful Sales Call →

4) Prepare to change your topic on the go

No matter how well you have studied your buyers' expectations for your presentation, surprises are possible and eventual. That’s why you need to be prepared for any objections. Sometimes instead of a trunk, your audience needs a wall. And remember – you don’t need to change the whole concept, just the common ground.

A good presentation has the facts delivered to the audience that touches an emotional aspect or aims to bring out an emotional reaction.

5) Make sure your presentation is visual, smart, and appealing

From the times of Aristotle, all persuasive communication has aimed to speak to the mind and to the heart. A good presentation has the facts delivered to the audience that touches an emotional aspect or aims to bring out an emotional reaction. Don’t be corny, though. Creating a great presentation isn’t easy and it’s a good idea to ask for help and feedback in doing this. Sales is teamwork.

Learn more about How to Use Videos in Sales: 3 Highly Effective Tactics →

6) Meeting is a two-way interaction; remember to ask questions

When you go on a date, a monologue is never sexy. The communication in your sales meetings is no different. Remember, the most important part of your presentation is your audience. Ask if they’re doing fine if they understand what you’re trying to explain, and if they find your points relevant. Think of good questions beforehand, it is your responsibility to help your buyers feel comfortable, heard, and understood.

7) Use humor, but don’t be an idiot

Humor is difficult. Jokes and business meetings are generally a bad match. People tend to like positive people in positive surroundings, so if you can bring humor about a minor situation,  the weather, or even about yourself to be seen more positively – give it a shot. Never slip out an offensive joke – it makes you look like an idiot.

Always remember that no matter your role in your organization, you are an extension of your brand. 

8) Know your brand inside and out and treat it with respect

Always remember that no matter your role in your organization, you are an extension of your brand. It’s not just you that is meeting with the customer. You represent your company – the past, present, and future of it. You represent all the people that have worked hard to get your company to where it is at this point. So make sure you align with your brand guidelines and values whenever you meet with a prospect. Do good for your company’s brand in every meeting – you owe it to the ones who are carrying you on their shoulders.

Illustration of branded digital sales room

All in all...

Tailoring your sales presentations to meet the needs of your audience can make all the difference in closing deals. Remember, your customers may be blind to your product or service at first, but by following these eight rules of tailoring your presentation, not only are you optimizing your process but most importantly, you can help your buyers see the value in what you're offering.

Learn next: 

  • How To Interpret and Overcome Sales Resistance in Sales Conversations →
  • 5 Essential Elements of a Winning Sales Proposal in B2B Sales →
  • Asking for the Sale: 7 Key Questions and Phrases for Successful Non-Pushy B2B Selling   →

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Supercompetent Speaking: Tailoring Your Presentation to Your Audience

Before your presentation, discover as much as you can about your audience, the leadership’s key objectives, and your role.

By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

One of the most important tenants in speaking is know thy audience. Failure to do your homework can mean failure. At a minimum, your message will be diluted and won’t have the impact it could have. You always will do a much better job when you conduct better research.

I’m not talking about something as blatantly ill-advised as advocating your favorite weight-loss tips to an audience of recovering anorexics or trying to sell winter coats to Bedouins. A presentation doesn’t have to completely miss its target to fail. You may lose points (and people) simply because it doesn’t have the impact it could, because you don’t understand the people in the seats as well as you should. So be sure to get all the facts you need about your audience first. Find out about:

  • The culture ( national, professional, or organizational). Who are they? If there are attendees from other countries, or you’re speaking internationally, take that into account. What is important to them? What do they expect? What do they consider rude? What humor won’t go over because they don’t “get” it? What communication style do they prefer? For example, it’s common for Americans to begin presentations with humor; however, Japanese speakers may begin by apologizing because they don’t know more about the subject (which doesn’t go over well with an American audience). Similarly, professional associations and companies will use different jargon (do they call employees “team members,” “associates,” or “individual contributors”?).
  • Their level of knowledge. Are they sophisticated conference attendees, or has their company rarely brought in outside experts?You certainly don’t want to do the equivalent of giving an introductory physics lecture to quantum theorists; you wouldn’t have anything to say that they haven’t learned already. If you know the audience’s general level of knowledge, you can make certain assumptions about what they understand, allowing you to skip the 101-level material they’ve heard before and go directly to the heart of the matter.
  • Their needs. Why are they listening to you in the first place? What is the expertise you bring? What issues can you solve? Among those who have come to learn, be sure you know in advance just what they want. Ask your sponsor about their goals. Schedule briefing calls with key leadership to discover what messages they’d like you to reinforce with the group. After you know their objectives, what stories, case studies, and anecdotes in your content arsenal will best illustrate them? Read their newsletters, annual reports, Websites, and industry magazine. This research will connect you with the audience, when they realize how much you know about them (often better than some employees know themselves).
  • Time of day. Even if you hit all your other targets, when you present may determine whether or not you make an impression. Assuming your presentation is one of several your audience members will attend that day, it may make a difference if you appear early in the morning (when many people are at peak energy level), several presentations in (as they’re looking forward to lunch), or after lunch (when they may be a bit sluggish). Take your scheduled time into account, revving the enthusiasm up or down as necessary to best engage your audience’s attention. If you’re the luncheon speaker, you may want to use a high-energy, high-humor approach to counter the heavy meal. If it’s been a long day, you may want to use a straight-to-the-point approach. If the audience has been drinking before your talk, be prepared to deal with hecklers.

The Long and Short of It

Discover as much as you can about the audience, the leadership’s key objectives, and your role. What do you want to get across? What do they want to know? How can you focus your message around their needs? How do they want to receive those benefits? By putting some serious thought into how to best appeal to your audience’s interests, you’ll dramatically increase your odds of nailing it the next time you’re up on that stage.

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, is an expert in productivity. For more than 20 years, her speeches have helped entrepreneurs, leaders, teams, and organizations improve output, lower stress, and save time at work and in life. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides time management workshops around the globe that help attendees achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time. An expert in the field of performance and workplace issues, Stack is the author or co-author of 10 books, most recently “ What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do .” Connect with her at http://www.TheProductivityPro.com ; http://www.facebook.com/productivitypro ; or http://www.twitter.com/laurastack .


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Module 4: Considering the Audience

Tailoring your speech to the audience, learning objectives.

Explain what it means to tailor a speech to the audience and the event.

You know that you have to give a presentation and you know there is an audience; what’s next? A bit of research is in order at this point. The more you know about who is listening, the better you will be able to connect your message with them.

Knowing about the audience and the event allows the speaker to tailor the speech for a particular speaking situation. Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario 1 : Janelle, who just completed a summer internship researching PTSD and substance abuse, is invited to present her work to a gathering of physicians. This presentation seems like a perfect opportunity to help medical professionals better understand this complex problem. She puts together a powerful presentation that uses stories from her research to illustrate the vicious circle of trauma and addiction and plans breakout groups in which the physicians would explore how their own work could be improved by a trauma-informed approach to medical care.

People sitting at tables eating.

Janelle didn’t realize that she’d be speaking at a holiday luncheon.

When she arrives at the event, she discovers that she is one of four students being featured at the event as the recipients of “Rising Research Stars” scholarships. The event itself, she learns, is a holiday luncheon for a local physicians’ group. Even though the scholarship presentation is only a small part of the event, she is allowed to give her full presentation. The crowd seems engaged at first, but she can tell they are losing focus halfway through. 

Afterwards, one of the organizers says, “that’s very impressive work you’re doing. Kind of a downer for a holiday party, though.” He laughs, but Janelle realizes he’s right: she gave the right presentation for the wrong crowd.

In a way, Janelle isn’t the only one at fault here: the organizers didn’t give her enough information to understand her role in the event. The mismatch between her presentation and the audience’s expectations could have been avoided, though, if she had asked a few questions about the nature of the event: What kind of gathering is it? Who will be there? What are they hoping to learn from me?

People standing in a circle in a classroom

Knowing about your audience and the event can help to make a presentation successful.

Scenario 2: Jaden needs to train day care employees on changes in their health and safety procedures. Jaden knows that this topic is critical as the workers have to make sure that all the little ones get the best care. Jaden does his homework and asks the day care manager about the attendees—how many there will be along with some demographic information. Even better, Jaden visits the day care to observe the people who will attend.

This prior knowledge gives Jaden information on how to construct his presentation. He will know what type of people will attend, what the facility looks like in which he will speak, age, gender, number, and so on. When Jaden creates his training, he will keep this information in mind. He  can tailor the language, examples, humor, and experience to the group. When Jaden conducts the training, the audience can tell that this training is just for them.

During the speech, Jaden can gauge the audience’s reaction. He can look for visual cues such as eye contact, body language, questions, and so on. He can tell if he is losing his audience if he sees someone dozing off in the back. He can tell if he is winning the audience by head shakes. Jaden will know from this feedback how engaged the audience is and can adjust his presentation based on what he observes.

The final step to knowing how the presentation went is asking for feedback on a survey. You have all experienced surveys given out at the end of speeches. The purpose is to help the speaker improve. Jaden will know from the surveys what his audience thought. He can then incorporate changes or keep some elements based upon what he learns. This is research into how everything went – thus, post feedback.

Tailoring a speech to one’s audience is the best way to get them to be invested in what you’re saying.

Watch out, though! If you tailor your speech too much to one segment of the audience, you risk losing the rest. If you speak just to the experts, your material could sail over the heads of beginners. If you speak only to those who agree with one side of an issue, those who hold the opposing view will dismiss your argument or get angry. Even if your entire audience might agree with your views on something, you should avoid telling them only what they want or expect to hear. This kind of one-sided presentation is called  pandering  or “preaching to the choir.”

To listen: Steve Martin, Plumbers Joke

Comedian Steve Martin plays with the idea of pandering to the audience on his 1977 standup album  Let’s Get Small . After setting up the idea that a group of plumbers from a convention are at his show, he tells a joke just for the plumbers.

You can view the transcript for “plumbers joke steve martin” here (opens in new window) .

After a long wind-up, we get the punchline:

This infuriated the supervisor, so he went and got Volume 14 of the Kinsley manual. He reads to him, “The Langstrom 7-inch wrench can be used with the Findley sprocket.” Just then, the little apprentice leaned over and said, “It says sprocket, not socket!”

When the joke doesn’t bring down the house, Martin asks, “were those plumbers supposed to be here this show?”

  • Teacher training. Authored by : Fabrice Florin. Located at : https://flic.kr/p/L9dqD5 . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • plumbers joke steve martin. Authored by : Bury and Associates. Located at : https://youtu.be/yX27AfOEYGc . License : Other . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
  • Tailoring Your Speech to the Audience. Authored by : Sandra K. Winn with Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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Sarah Bedrick

Tips on how to tailor a presentation to your audience.

In an information-obsessed culture, people are consuming more content than ever.  And for industry experts looking to share valuable information and insights with others, this makes the prospect of creating consumable content more enticing than ever.

For newer folks, the general advice is to write publish the content as the first step to success.  Then once the content is out in the world, then start focusing on refining your content creation/writing skills it as you go. This philosophy on content creation makes the barrier to entry low, which can be good.

Now, a low barrier to entry for creating content is good in some situations –  like writing content in the form of blog posts. Why  is that,  you ask? Well people that read your content usually do so by their own volition and can easily bail if it doesn’t meet their expectations.

However, for those giving presentations – that is not sound advice. Those same rules of “just getting it out there” don’t apply for presentations. People can technically bail, but often don’t because it’s too rude. Although, what will result from a presentation not tailored enough for an audience is that attendees will whip out their phones and start texting, tweeting, emailing and anything else they can do to make good use of their time.

Tailoring your presentation is what makes a presentation go from “ok” to “great.” It’s what shows your audience that you have respect for them and their time, which indicates you are a professional.

By taking the time to understand them and their needs, you will be sure to make a positive first impression and make your content more relevant and valuable from the very first slide.


Warning: Avoiding this important step in the content creation will harm your presentation – like a lot. Not only will it look like you didn’t take it seriously, but it can also make a knowledgable speaker look less credibility on a topic.

Below please find some of the considerations when creating a presentation, so you can tailor it to them:

Speak with the person who has hired you.

Before you even begin to create the content of the presentation, connect with the person who hired you (or that is orchestrating the event) so that you’re able to ask few questions about the audience.

The questions should help you be more aware of who you’ll be presenting to and what your message may look like to them. Also, the information they share should help be your guideposts for the stories you tell, the statistics or facts used and even the language used in the presentation.

Questions like these can help you learn what you’ll need in order to craft the right message:

  • Tell me a little bit about the audience of this presentation.
  • What is their general attitude on this topic?
  • What types of information resonates well with them?
  • Where do they usually go for information on this topic?   Where do they usually go for information in general?
  • Do they appreciate high level overviews or more nitty gritty details and best practices?
  • Did anybody present on this topic last year? How did it go over and what did the audience like about that?
  • Is there anything else you’d like me to know about speaking to this audience?

One cautionary note here – while it may seem as though this person has a great understanding of these details, often times they don’t. It’s important to listen to what they think and use it to guide your presentation, but don’t neglect the items below – as creating content in a vacuum can be dangerous.

Get a list of attendees & conduct research.

What better way to know who you’ll be educating or entertaining than by doing a bit of preliminary research on the folks who will be there. Ask the person who has hired you fi they have a list of attendees. That way you can do some research to understand some of the important details like:

  • Their basic level of understanding of the topic. For example, if you’re speaking about inbound marketing, you can see the current state of their marketing efforts and knowledge by viewing their website and the content they’ve made available.
  • Find out what makes them tick and who they are as a collective group. Doing a quick Google search might be able to bring up some helpful information around who they are. Find their social accounts, their blog posts or even some information about them and their role.
  • Look at some of the news around the companies attending. This can let you see if there is some major breaking news in the industry or anything worthy of mentioning. This small detail can go a long way in demonstrating to your audience that you do, in fact, care about them.

Do the research to understand who you'll be speaking to.

Speak to people who fit their persona. 

Do you know anybody that fits the attendee persona? If so, make the most of this connection. These people can be the intermediaries between you and your audience. Try out the overall story arc to see if it resonates and has the impact that you’re looking for – and then when you’ve nailed that – try out your stories, statistics, and jokes with them to gain and understanding of their perception of your presentation.

Sample Business Story Arc

Look at topics discussed last year.

This one piece of quick research can give you insight as to the topics discussed before, letting you know exactly what level of knowledge and education you can expect from the audience.

This was one tip I wish I knew before speaking to a completely unfamiliar audience. I did all of the items above, but neglected to look at previous agendas. Then when I got to the conference, I looked at this year’s agenda and was shocked to see that the audience was may more familiar with the topic than i had been lead to believe.

Understanding your audience will shed light as to what content to cover, how to cover it and even which examples or jokes to use for your specific crowd.

Lastly, look at other details like time of day & size of the audience.

Will you be the first presenter of the day? Or maybe you’ll be closing out the entire conference.  Or maybe you’re right after lunch, which just so happens to be heavy coma-inducing food.  Use this knowledge and situation to determine the appropriate energy levels that will keep the attention of your audience, but not overwhelm them.

The size of the audience will dictate just how formal, informal or interactive your session can be. Larger groups usually benefit from a more formal presentation with rhetorical questions and slight interactivity. Whereas a smaller group begs more interaction which can be used to pull the audience in, ask them questions they can answer on the fly and even get them participating in the content.

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Tailor Your Presentation to Fit the Culture

Johnny loves facts and Johan loves theory.

Fourteen years ago I moved from Chicago to Paris. The first time I ran a training session in France, I prepared thoroughly, considering how to give the most persuasive presentation possible. I practiced my points, and anticipated questions that might arise.

The day of the session, my actions were guided by the lessons I had learned from many successful years of training in the U.S. I started by getting right to the point, introducing strategies, practical examples, and next steps.

But the group did not seem to be responding as usual, and soon the first hand came up. “How did you get to these conclusions?” You are giving us your tools and recommended actions, but I haven’t heard enough about how you got here. How many people did you poll? What questions did you ask?” Then another jumped in: “Please explain what methodology you used for analyzing your data and how that led you to come to these findings”.

The interruptions seemed out of place, even arrogant. Why, I wondered, did they feel the need to challenge my credibility?   The material was practical, actionable and interesting.   Their questions on the other hand — if I were to spend the necessary time answering them — were so conceptual they were sure to send the group into a deep slumber. So I assured them that the methodology behind the recommendations was sound, and was based on careful research, which I would be happy to discuss with them during a break. I then moved back to my conclusions, tools and practical examples. Let’s just say things got worse from there.

The stonewall I had run into was “ principles-first reasoning ” (sometimes referred to as deductive reasoning), which derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts. People from principles-first cultures, such as France, Spain, Germany, and Russia (to name just a few) most often seek to understand the “why” behind proposals or requests before they move to action.

But as an American, I had been immersed throughout my life in “ applications-first reasoning ” (sometimes referred to as inductive reasoning), in which general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world. Application-first cultures tend to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how.” Later, as I began to understand the differences between one culture and another in how to influence other people, I heard many examples of the way the typical American presentation style is viewed from a European perspective.

Jens Hupert, a German living in the United States for many years, explained his opposite experience during an interview. “In the U.S., when giving a talk to my American colleagues, I would start my presentation by laying the foundation for my conclusions, just like I had learned in Germany; setting the parameters; outlining my data and my methodology; and explaining my argument.” Jens was taken aback when his American boss told him, “In your next presentation, get right to the point. You lost their attention before you got to the important part.” In Hupert’s mind, “You cannot come to a conclusion without first defining the parameters.”

Most people are capable of practicing both principles-first and applications-first reasoning, but your habitual pattern of reasoning is heavily influenced by the kind of thinking emphasized in your culture’s education structure.

Different cultures have different systems for learning, in part because of the philosophers who influenced the approach to intellectual life in general. Although Aristotle , a Greek, is credited with articulating the applications-first thinking, it was British thinkers, including Roger Bacon in the 13th century and Francis Bacon in the 16th century, who popularized these methodologies. General conclusions are reached based on a pattern of actual observations in the real world.

For example, if you travel to my hometown in Minnesota in January, and you observe every visit that the temperature is considerably below zero, you will conclude that Minnesota winters are cold.  You observe data from the real world, and you draw broader conclusions based on these empirical observations. Francis Bacon was British, but later, Americans with their pioneer mentality came to be even more applications-first than the British.

By contrast, philosophy on the European continent has been largely driven by principles-first approaches. In the 17th century, Frenchman René Descartes spelled out a method of principles-first reasoning in which the scientist first formulates a hypothesis and then seeks evidence to prove or disprove it.

For example, you may start with the general principle like “all men are mortal.” Then move to “Justin Bieber is a man.” And that leads you to conclude that “ Justin Bieber will eventually die.” One starts with the general principle, and from that moves to a practical conclusion. In the 19th century, the German Friedrich Hegel introduced the dialectic model of deduction, which reigns supreme in schools in Latin and Germanic countries. The Hegelian dialectic begins with a thesis, or foundational argument; this is opposed by an antithesis, or conflicting argument; and the two are then reconciled in a synthesis.

No matter which type of country you were raised in, and which cultures you are working with, it helps a lot to be able to adapt your style according to your audience. Here are a few tips to guide your preparation when working internationally:

When working with applications-first people:

  • Presentations: Make your arguments effectively by getting right to the point. Stick to concrete examples, tools and next steps. Spend relatively little time building up the theory or concept behind your arguments. You’ll need less time for conceptual debate.
  • Persuading others: Provide practical examples of how it worked elsewhere.
  • Providing Instructions: Focus on the how more than the why.

When working with principles-first people:

  • Presentations: Make your argument effectively by explaining and validating the concept underlying your reasoning before coming to conclusions and examples. Leave enough time for challenge and debate of the underlying concepts. Training sessions may take longer.
  • Persuading others: Provide background principles and welcome debate.
  • Providing Instructions: Explain why, not just how.

These days, I give a lot of presentations to groups across Europe and the Americas. I do my best to adapt to my audience, instead of thinking that the whole world thinks like me.

If I’m presenting to a group of New Yorkers, I’ll only spend a moment talking about what research is behind the tool. But if I’m in Moscow, I’ll carefully set the stage, laying out the parameters for my arguments, and engaging in debate before arriving at conclusions. If I fail to do this, they are likely to think “What does this woman think. . . . that we are stupid ? That we will just swallow anything?”

When you hope to engage, when you hope to inform and persuade and convince, what you say is important, but how you say it, how you structure your message, can make all the difference —  to the Americans, to the French, to everyone.

tailor your presentation meaning

  • EM Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, where she directs the executive education program Leading Across Borders and Cultures. She is the author of The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business (PublicAffairs, 2014) and coauthor (with Reed Hastings) of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention (Penguin, 2020). ErinMeyerINSEAD

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Tailoring a Presentation or Workshop to Your Audience

Public speaking is an important skill to acquire , as it can be a very effective tool for marketing your organizing business . Stacey Agin Murray of Organized Artistry has spoken to a variety of different groups, so I’ve asked her to share her secrets for ensuring that it’s a valuable experience for both you and your audience.


There are hundreds of ways to promote one’s business. If you don’t mind standing in front of people and talking, then public speaking can be one of your secret marketing weapons!

There are many topics a Professional Organizer can speak about–the list is long and varied. But, before creating a presentation, it’s necessary to know your audience so you can tailor your presentation or workshop to their needs. You wouldn’t want to prepare a workshop on organizing kids’ clothes for a group of retirees! You want to know who will be sitting in the audience so you can create an optimal learning experience for them. If they’ve enjoyed and learned from your presentation, they are more likely to purchase your goods and engage your services.

How can you tailor your presentation to your audience?

The first step is to reach out to your contact person–the person who hired you to do the presentation/workshop. They will have the most knowledge regarding the demographics of the audience. If they don’t know offhand, ask them to do some ‘digging’ to find out more about who the audience is and what they would like to learn.

Once you get that information, it’s time to ask yourself the following ‘5 W’s questions’ to achieve audience clarity and help you to tailor your presentation.

Who will be attending? What is the age, culture, place they are in life, financial status, of the audience?

What do they want to learn?

What are they expected to learn? (for a school or corporation)

When is the presentation taking place? Do I have 15 minutes or an hour to speak? Lunch-n-learn or evening program?

Where will I be doing the presentation? Is there wi-fi or should I bring a an easel and some visual aids?

Why have I been chosen to give a presentation or workshop to this particular audience?

After you’ve determined the answers to the ‘5 W’s questions,’ your job is to figure out the ‘How.’  How  will I tailor my presentation to meet the needs of my audience based on the knowledge I’ve gathered? Below are three categories to concentrate on while tailoring a presentation for a particular audience.

Delivery Style

Think about the group you’ll be presenting to. How would they want to you to deliver your information to them?

  • Stress applicable information to a particular group to increase relevancy.
  • Use relaxed or formal language?
  • Infuse a little or a lot of humor to connect with your audience? Or none at all…
  • Should you dress formally or more casually?
  • Use Power Point or physical props or a combination of both?
  • If using slides, then slides with text or just visuals?
  • Speak from a lectern?
  • Sit in a circle with a small, informal group?
  • Mingle with the audience before and/or after the presentation?

Tailoring your presentation to your audience is key to engaging them and ensuring they leave with the knowledge they came for. Arrive early, be prepared, and smile–you can’t go wrong if you’re showing enthusiasm!

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Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey Agin Murray, owner of Organized Artistry, LLC is a Professional Organizer in Fair Lawn, NJ offering residential organizing services from attic to basement and every space in between. She is the author of 7 Steps to an Organized Wedding Thank You Note , a quick-reference guide for the overwhelmed bride.

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How to Tailor Presentations For Different Audiences


Posted in Communication , Presentations on 28th January 2021

Often you may need to present the same product or concept to multiple groups. It’s important that you tailor the style of voice, imagery and slide layout to be as relevant and engaging as possible for your specific audience.

For example, using professional, succinct language with high-quality videos might suit a room full of CEO’s better than using colloquial language and cartoon animations.

You ultimately want to capture your audience’s interest, educate or inspire them, gain their trust and build a positive relationship.

There are a few simple ways you can adapt your presentation and demeanour to fit the needs of each listener. Before you begin to create your next presentation, ask yourself these questions first:

What is your objective?

First of all, you need clear and simple objectives to make sure you are heading in the right direction.

  • What exactly is it you want your audience to understand by the end of your presentation?
  • How do you want to make them feel or react?
  • Is there a specific action you want them to make?

Build your presentation based on the answers to these questions.

What kind of style, content and visual aids are appropriate?

Think about who your audience will be and if they have a certain type of personality, what their experience level is and what they believe in.

This will all determine the style and content of your presentation.

  • Do they have a high technical knowledge that requires little in-depth explanation?
  • Will they appreciate clear, simplified answers compared to technical jargon?
  • Will they understand practical examples better, using video, animations and interactive elements, or more descriptive explanations?
  • Will professional language be more appropriate than colloquial language?
  • Will bold, bright imagery and text be more appealing compared to a more conservative style?
  • Could you use quotes from reliable sources to support your answer?

For any audience group, it’s essential to add supporting visual aids. Using interactive elements is a way to engage your audience and have a greater impact. Take a look at this article –  5 ways to make your presentation more interactive and engaging  – for some inspiration.

How should you structure and deliver your presentation?

It’s important to structure your presentation slides in a logical and coherent manner. For example, structuring your presentation as a digital story – with a clear beginning, middle and end – is a memorable and relatable technique to deliver a strong message.

Read over this article –  using digital storytelling for better customer engagement  – for some ideas.

Leslie Rule from the Centre of Digital Storytelling  has summarised the need to tell your story digitally:

Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights. Tell your story now digitally.

Remember, the main aim is to engage your audience as effectively as possible.

For more presentation ideas and advice, feel free to contact us at [email protected] . We are passionate about building impactful, interactive presentations, to help bring our clients presentations to life.

For more information, check out: www.companyapp.co.uk/presenter/

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How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation: A Speaking Survival Guide for the Rest of Us by

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Chapter 3. Tailoring Your Speech

Should i tailor the speech for the type of audience.

If you simply want to give a pretty good presentation, don't waste time trying to figure out how to tailor your speech to your audience in terms of stories versus facts. Audiences around the world are all the same: they want stories that involve relevant ideas and facts that affect them. If all you do is present the facts, ma'am, there is an excellent chance your speech will come up short—and be incredibly boring and instantly forgotten.


It is true that different audiences will tell you they like different styles as far as facts versus concepts versus stories. Ignore them. You do, however, want to tailor your messages to your audience; so by all means, do some research and find out what messages your audience is interested in, what questions they need answers to, and what problems they have that you might be able to solve. Then give them a presentation that is focused on a handful of messages that are important to them and to you, a story for each, and the most essential relevant facts. I know you've heard that one size doesn't fit all, but in this case, it really does. Messages may differ from audience to audience, but the best way to tailor your speech to an audience really does not change.

Don't be fooled when people tell you their audience is different because everyone has advanced degrees or are "industry insiders." Yes, their audience is different ...

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Presentation Training Institute

Presentation Training Institute

A division of bold new directions training.

Tailor Your Look to the Presentation

You only have one shot to make a good first impression and an audience’s first impression happens before you ever open your mouth.  The moment you take the stage the audience will take notice of what you are wearing. Whether we like it or not, appearance can heavily influence someone’s initial opinion of a speaker’s personality and competence.  Presenters who appear put-together will be perceived as more knowledgeable and responsible. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear a suit and tie to every presentation, but you do need to consider your audience, venue, and the topic you are discussing to choose an outfit that is appropriate.  

Consider the Audience

Are you presenting to a group of executives in a formal presentation or are you giving an impromptu presentation during your team’s weekly town hall meeting?  The outfit you choose to wear at a formal presentation to your executives will be much different than the casual presentation you are giving to your colleagues.  This is why you must consider your audience when deciding what to wear. Any time you are giving a formal presentation you want to appear polished and professional.  Suits, dresses, and pantsuits would be appropriate for this type of audience. Likewise, if you are giving a presentation to a group of millennials, you might wear something a bit more fashion forward and trendy.  This can help you connect with a younger audience.

Consider the Venue

Are you presenting in a large auditorium or a small meeting room?  Are you presenting outdoors? You want to consider the venue in which you will be presenting when deciding what to wear.  For example, if you are giving a presentation outdoors in the middle of summer you will not be comfortable in a full suit and tie.  Formal venues typically require more formal attire while you can get away with something more casual in a casual office setting.

Consider the Topic

Think about what you might wear if you were giving a serious presentation to a group of investors.  You will probably want to wear something that is dressier and more professional. In contrast, imagine you are pitching to a group of retirees about vacation rentals.  In this case you might want to show up in a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops to set the tone. The topic of your presentation can impact what you wear and you should tailor your outfit to go along with your topic.

What you decide to wear has a lot to do with your audience, industry, and topic.  For example technology and creative industries typically hire young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s who can get away with dark colored jeans, a pressed shirt, and a sport coat.  Just the same, investment firms might employ middle-aged employees and this industry would require suits, ties, and dresses. Think about your audience and your topic before choosing your outfit.  If the situation allows, relax and have some fun with your wardrobe. Either way, remember that if you want to impress your audience you need to dress the part.

Rebel's Guide to Project Management

How To Present To Senior Executives

Today, I’m handing the blog over to Leigh Espy.  Project communication management often involves giving confident presentations. In this piece, Leigh talks about how to tailor your presentations for C-suite level senior executives.

As you grow in your project management career, you’ll be called upon to make various presentations. However not all presentations are the same. Presentations to senior executives can be very different than presenting project information to peers.

Leigh Epsy

The level of formality might vary depending on your organization, but usually the focus and needs of those at the C-suite level are the same, and are very different than those at the individual contributor or manager level.

What does C-suite mean?

By C-suite we’re talking about people who have job titles starting with ‘C’ like CEO, Chief Operating Officer, CFO or similar. The top people in your company; your Board.

These are senior managers in the organization: the people who are executive leaders. Think: they have the corner office! And often offices on the top floor. With windows and a view… at least that’s how things used to be.

Today’s senior leaders are just as likely to hot desk with the rest of us.

However, regardless of where they sit, you still need to understand their views and what they need from a presentation. Understanding the different needs for the executive audience will help you prepare and give presentations about your projects with confidence and grace.

Let’s look first at the differences between what an executive leadership audience wants from a presentation and what will go down best with your colleagues.

Tips for Starting Executive Presentations

You will likely not have as much time if you’ve been fit into the agenda of an executive session. You need to get to the point as quickly as possible.

Don’t start with stories, but rather get to the point. Lead with what you need from them. Use a summary slide (as per this advice from HBR ) to summarize everything in your presentation, and then use the rest of your presentation to support that.

Tip: You need to have the data available in case it is requested. This is different to how you would present to your peers.

You want to engage your peers with the “Why” of the project. Help them understand the benefits so that you can get their buy-in and support. Speak from a perspective that they can relate to. By connecting with a story, you can capture their interest and draw them in more.

meetings template kit

6 Tips for Strong Executive Presentations

Here are my top 6 tips for managing the middle part of your senior leadership presentation. You’ve been called to a C-level meeting to show your stuff, let’s not waste the opportunity!

  • Once you’ve explained your position or what you need, give a brief explanation of why this is important to the company. Give it context.
  • Provide evidence that your position is important. Do this with high level data, and use graphs or charts if possible. Present outcomes and what the data supports.
  • Be ready with the drill-down data if it is requested.
  • If the executives stray from what you’ve rehearsed, be ready to go with it. You have to let the conversation flow in the direction they take it. They may need to have peripheral discussions in order to come to agreement or decisions on your topic.
  • Be clear on your goals and bottom line
  • Be ready to provide a much shorter version of your presentation
  • Be ready to discuss even if you must stray from your rehearsed presentation
  • Go immediately to your bottom line.
  • Read the room and make changes to accommodate what is going on in the moment – be flexible and ready for the direction the discussion goes.

This article has more tips for presenting at work if you feel like you want to dig into these strategies a bit further.

How senior management presentations differ from other presentations

When you are talking to your peers about your work, you can take a different approach.

The main part of your presentation can be shaped in a different way, because they need to take away different information so they can make decisions or do their job, or understand what is coming.

Here are some tips for managing that kind of presentation.

  • Using silences in your stories and presentations can be powerful.
  • Your audience wants to be both informed and entertained. Telling stories and explaining your points in ways that resonate with your audience is going to impact them more. Use stories that grab their attention ( find out how to do that here ).
  • Your presentation should flow in a logical order. If you are presenting about a new software product, set the context for the audience and build on the information. If you are presenting new process changes that must be adopted by others, you might give a story about the challenges currently faced and how you approached the process development to get the right inputs for the changes. Then you might tell about the changes and how they will benefit others. You might follow with the rollout/ adoption plans. Ensure that your presentation flows well.
  • If your audience veers off topic, bring them back on point to keep the presentation focused.

Tip: Stay on the stage! Read about the time Elizabeth fell off the stage .

The Presentation Book is a good reference on how to make stand-out presentations that people will remember.

How to close a presentation to senior executives

For the best presentation to your senior leadership team, you’ll want to be clear on what is needed from them (or overall), and on the next steps.

If someone has an action item or follow-up activities, be clear on who that is and what action is to be taken.

Presentation skills infographic

Final tips for creating successful executive presentations (that also work for all presentations)

There are similarities that will support a successful presentation for both types of audiences: both your executive audience and your peers or other people. You should:

  • Know your audience
  • Be aware of the various concerns in the room before you present
  • Anticipate the questions that will be asked so that you’re ready to answer or provide the detail they will be requested
  • Do not read from PowerPoint slides
  • Practice, practice, practice!

By knowing what is needed for both briefing senior leaders and your colleagues, you’ll be ready to present to both peers and executives successfully.

Your team and management will trust you to represent the project or your department with grace and confidence in a variety of situations, and you’ll step in front of each knowing you’re well-prepared.

Want more tips? Here’s a quick video on how to deliver a great presentation about your project.

About the Author: Leigh Espy has 18 years of project management experience, with a primary focus on IT project management. She’s worked in the public and private sectors, and domestically and internationally. She loves helping newer PMs and those hoping to make the switch to project management. She blogs at projectbliss.net .

Pin for later reading:

How to present to senior executives

Project manager, author, mentor

Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .

Universal source of knowledge

What does tailoring your presentation mean?

Table of Contents

  • 1 What does tailoring your presentation mean?
  • 2 How can the presentation be altered to suit a different audience?
  • 3 How do you present to a different audience?
  • 4 How would you explain the importance of tailoring a set of instructions for a specific audience?
  • 5 What does tailor mean in speech?
  • 6 How do you engage the audience in an online presentation?

It’s to reflect on the human context in which you will deliver your message so you can tailor it to suit your audience’s challenges and goals. Anticipating the needs and concerns of your audience helps you calibrate your mind-set as you prepare and execute your presentation.

How can the presentation be altered to suit a different audience?

When you repurpose a presentation, think about the things that you need your new audience to do. Then, decide what language resonates with or motivates them. Update your CTA accordingly. By the end of your talk, your audience should be 100% clear about what they can do to help you meet your goal.

Why should you tailor your message to your audience?

Overall, tailored messages demand greater attention. They often seem more relevant to consumers because of their open and direct communication. They give well-known brands the chance to not only target a specific audience and also helps them to promote their brand by showing customers what they care about.

How can you make your presentation interesting to the audience?

8 Ways to Make Your Presentation More Interactive

  • Break the ice. Each of your audience members comes to your presentation in a completely different mood.
  • Tell stories.
  • Add videos.
  • Embrace the power of non-linear presenting.
  • Ask questions during your presentation.
  • Poll the audience.
  • Share the glory.

How do you present to a different audience?

How to Present to Different Types of Audiences

  • Don’t get too comfortable.
  • Get to know your audience.
  • Give your audience time.
  • Use enticing visuals.
  • Provide as much information as necessary.
  • Incorporate visuals into your speech.
  • Use anecdotes for additional context.
  • Respect your audience.

How would you explain the importance of tailoring a set of instructions for a specific audience?

If you write without a specific audience in mind, the document might be far too general and vague, or it might include too much information. When you tailor a document to a specific audience, the document will have better “unity of purpose and style,” and it will make the reader feel more involved (Hale).

What is done in tailoring?

Tailoring is the art of designing, cutting, fitting, and finishing clothes. The word tailor comes from the French tailler, to cut, and appears in the English language during the fourteenth century. The term bespoke, or custom, tailoring describes garments made to measure for a specific client.

How do you prepare before delivering a presentation?

  • Steps in Preparing a Presentation.
  • Planning Your Presentation.
  • Step 1: Analyze your audience.
  • Step 2: Select a topic.
  • Step 3: Define the objective of the presentation.
  • Preparing the Content of Your Presentation.
  • Step 4: Prepare the body of the presentation.
  • Step 5: Prepare the introduction and conclusion.

What does tailor mean in speech?

(tr) to adapt so as to make suitable for something specific: he tailored his speech to suit a younger audience.

How do you engage the audience in an online presentation?

10 Ways to Keep Your Audience Engaged During an Online Presentation

  • 1 Increase your visibility. Many presenters complain that they can’t see their audience.
  • 2 Leverage your voice.
  • 3 Embrace the pause.
  • 4 Start on time.
  • 5 Plan interaction.
  • 6 Visually reinforce key points.
  • 7 Create word pictures.
  • 8 Simplify your slides.

How do you engage your audience in a virtual presentation?

Five tips for high impact virtual presentations:

  • Grab their attention early.
  • Add a little friendly competition.
  • Make it easy and safe for everyone to participate by using interactive elements.
  • Prioritize key points and reinforce them.
  • Listen to feedback.

How can I control my presentation?

These steps may help:

  • Know your topic.
  • Get organized.
  • Practice, and then practice some more.
  • Challenge specific worries.
  • Visualize your success.
  • Do some deep breathing.
  • Focus on your material, not on your audience.
  • Don’t fear a moment of silence.

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Definition of tailor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of tailor  (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

intransitive verb

  • acclimatize
  • accommodate

Example Sentences

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tailor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English taillour , from Anglo-French taillur , from tailler, taillier to cut, from Late Latin taliare , from Latin talea plant cutting, thin piece of wood

13th century, in the meaning defined above

1719, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Phrases Containing tailor

  • custom - tailor
  • tailor - made

Dictionary Entries Near tailor

tail of the eye

tailor's chair

Cite this Entry

“Tailor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tailor. Accessed 1 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of tailor.

Kids Definition of tailor  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on tailor

Nglish: Translation of tailor for Spanish Speakers

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tailor

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    What does tailoring your presentation mean? It's to reflect on the human context in which you will deliver your message so you can tailor it to suit your audience's challenges and goals. Anticipating the needs and concerns of your audience helps you calibrate your mind-set as you prepare and execute your presentation.

  23. Tailor Definition & Meaning

    1 a : to make or fashion as the work of a tailor b : to make or adapt to suit a special need or purpose 2 : to fit with clothes 3 : to style with trim straight lines and finished handwork intransitive verb : to do the work of a tailor Synonyms Verb acclimate acclimatize accommodate adapt adjust condition conform doctor edit fashion fit put shape