Expectations and Assumptions

When creating a presentation there are two levels to consider: the presenter’s and the recipient’s.

Some presentations fail to deliver the desired outcome because they haven’t accounted for the audience’s expectations.

How can one factor this in? We believe asking ourselves a few key questions is always a great help.

For example:

If you ask yourself, what you expect as the presenter chances are you will say: “A positive response!”

Finetune that by asking: “What kind of positive response?”

Applause? Interest? Action?

Check each of these assumptions against your (real) expectations:

  • Applause feels good, but is that why you worked so hard on that fantastic PPT?
  • Interest is better, but is it enough? Don’t you want that interest to translate into follow-up?
  • Isn’t action what YOU EXPECT from the recipients of your PPT?

If you don’t get it – chances are that’s because you haven’t asked yourself one more crucial question: “What do THEY EXPECT?”

Putting yourself in the shoes of the recipient/audience is essential if you want to address this disconnect.

Make a list of their expectations, for example:

  • To be informed: this covers basics – facts, figures, data, credentials
  • To be enlightened: this covers context – background, bigger picture, insights
  • To be spurred: this covers outcome – following interest, overcoming hesitation, taking action

If you start your presentation with the assumption that action is inevitable, or that applause is enough – you’ve got hold of the wrong end of that PPT pointer!

Your expectation that they will ACT does not match their expectation of BEING INFORMED AND ENLIGHTENED IN ORDER TO TAKE ACTION – having received enough material to overcome any initial hesitations and doubts.

So the real hurdle to overcome is not: “How stupid the audience was, they didn’t buy into my brilliant idea!”

Rather it is: “How stupid I was to assume they were even interested in my brilliant idea!”

In short:

  • make no assumptions
  • acknowledge expectations of both parties
  • build your presentation from start to finish keeping the real outcome in mind!