Presentations: attracting the right audience

Whether you’re presenting to your audience in person or online (for example, a webinar), you’ll only get the right people ‘in the room’ if your invitation to attend clearly answers the question:

“What’s in it for me?”

Standard invitations

If your presentation or webinar is a standalone event, your invitation must convince recipients to give up their time (and possibly money) to attend. The commitment you’re asking for is greater for a face-to-face presentation. So, depending on the nature of the event, the invitation might call for higher production values, or a noticeable level of personalisation, or conspicuous reference to the main drawcard for the event.

But generally the same basic rules apply to invitations whether the event is in person or online; and whether the invitation is printed and posted, sent as an email, or sent as an attachment to an email:

  • Keep it as short as is practical
  • Show a clear understanding of the problems or questions that the target audience is actively looking for answers to
  • Clearly communicate that your presentation is going to address these issues
  • Include some key takeaways
  • Mention the speaker to personalise the event
  • Make it easy to identify when and where the event is
  • Make it easy to register and find out more

Presentation abstracts

If your presentation is part of a larger event, your ‘invitation’ to the target audience is probably a short description or abstract in a programme of events. Your job is to make this presentation stand out from the others that are on at the same time; and you may have as few as 50 words to do so. Don’t waste them.

Consider the audience and why they’re at the event. If everyone is there for broadly the same reasons, think about leaving out the traditional statement of their challenges and cut straight to the takeaways of your presentation. Also focus on what you hope will make your presentation stand out: will you be covering lots of case studies; or is your speaker the world’s recognised expert; or do you have something surprising or controversial to say?

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