[8 Steps To A Live Presentation That Sells Series] Article #3 ~ Know Your Audience

As I said last time, before you do a presentation for the purpose of sales, you have to find out about the audience: their background, their needs and so on.

You want to use that information for your benefit and theirs. While still being true to yourself, you might tailor your content or delivery somewhat. In any case, you want to know how they’re likely to receive your message.

As my story below shows, ignorance is definitely not bliss. Not knowing your audience can be a fatal mistake.

My Blunder
A decade ago a network-marketing company brought me in to speak the first night of an event, and then twice more during the weekend. I was familiar with the company, but not with the particular group of people who made up the audience of 1,200.

If you’ve heard me speak, you know that I may use profanity to get a point across or snap people out of their mental hypnosis.

Also, it’s part of my story about being sucked into the dam. When that happened, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Shit!” So when I told the audience that story the first night, it seemed perfectly natural to convey what I’d said.

I came back to speak the next day, thinking that the talk had gone well and we were going to make a ton of sales. Instead, as I was about to get onstage, the promoter told me that I had offended almost everybody in the audience.

“You have to be kidding me,” I said. “I’ve been telling that story for years. What do you mean?”

“You swore on the stage,” he said.

“Yes, but that’s part of my story.”

“These are all hard-core Christians,” he said. “They came up to me in droves after you left, telling me how offended they were.”

After our conversation, I did my second presentation. And while I was able to salvage the situation somewhat, we did not get the sales that weekend that we should—or could—have.

I believe in taking responsibility for every situation in our lives, so when I looked at this one squarely, I realized the problem was I hadn’t done my research. Because I knew the group, I assumed that I knew everything I needed to know about the audience.

Had I known that this particular promoter had developed a following of Christians who would be offended by swearing, I probably would have toned down my language. Then, instead of offending them, I could have drawn them in with the absolute miracle of my survival.

After all, they and I were devout when it came to Spirit, so they could have felt a real connection to me.

I could have built upon that connection to effect transformation for them and make a lot of sales for me.

Instead, I lost a powerful opportunity by my failure to ask the promoter these four simple questions:

1. What is the background of the audience?

2. What are their main challenges or concerns?

3. What do you hope or expect the audience to learn from me? Why have you invited me to speak?

4. What is your background?

With the answers to those questions, I would have the information I needed to create a powerful and profitable experience for everyone.

Learn from my mistake. Do your research and get to know your audience. It’s not very difficult, and you’ll be so glad you did.


David Neagle, The Million Dollar Income Acceleration Mentor and author of The Millions Within, teaches entrepreneurs and commission-based sales professionals how to quantum leap their current incomes past the 7-figure income level, often in less than 12 months. As a world-class speaker, sales trainer, and success-mindset mentor to some of the globe’s top CEOs, David also privately mentors big decision-makers in their pursuit of quantum success and peace of mind.


  1. Thanks David!! I appreciate you sharing your big blunder and the 4 questions to ask! I’m already getting speaking invitations in for 2014 and this will help me a great deal!

    • You’re welcome Crystal. It was something that taught me a great deal at the time and I continue to take that lesson with me each and every time I speak. It has made me appreciate the craft that is speaking and shows me that learning is a lifelong endeavor. Congrats on the speaking opportunities that are in your future and I appreciate the post.

  2. David, thank you, once again! Those questions, and the story, are so powerful. I appreciate the way you model business practices, and I greatly admire the way you do them.

    • You bet Steph. I share these stories to show you that anything is possible and we are all incredibly human. That is what makes life exciting! I appreciate the kind words.

    • For sure Angie. That last question is to get a gauge of what the individual/promoter who’s event you will be speaking at is all about. It really pays to do your homework in that area before deciding to speak, and then to do your homework while onsite watching the speaker engage with his/her audience. That will only serve to help you in what you need to do while there. I appreciate the post.