Don’t Be Caught Tailoring Your Presentation with These 5 Tricks


When you tailor your presentation to a particular audience, you not only prove your professionalism in understanding them and their needs, you also make it easier for them to relate your ideas to their work.

Quick and easy tailoring is better than no tailoring at all, but not by much. Doing it wrong can definitely diminish your credibility.

There are five mistakes speakers make (and you should avoid doing) when you tailor your presentations:

  1. Using the client’s name repetitively and nothing else. This cut and paste approach is a sure sign you haven’t done any preparation unique to the audience. Another version of this is adding the client’s logo to your standard PowerPoint or keynote presentation with no other reference to the organization.
  2. Not knowing what audience members do in their work. It doesn’t help to know about a client’s general operations if you don’t understand the job of those in the audience you are speaking to. You might have accountants for a technology firm or IT professionals that work for an accounting firm. There is a huge difference between how you’d address each audience.
  3. Using acronyms incorrectly. Let’s say you’re speaking for Winword System Development. You might see an abbreviation on your pre-program questionnaire written WSD. That doesn’t necessarily mean they refer to themselves that way with the spoken word. The common reference might be something like Win Sys. Ask the client what the best way is to refer to the organization.
  4. Ignoring context. Context determines the validity of many of your ideas. While a particular industry might be depressed overall, some players in that industry are doing great. Referring to the tough times a client faces rather than acknowledging their success despite those tough times means you don’t understand the context of the situation.
  5. Missing breaking news about the client. Between the time you get the booking, speak to the client in preparation and arrive on site, much can change. Yes, clients will often alert you to big breaking news, but not always. Google the organization’s name the day before you speak to see what’s in the media about them. You just might find something even they don’t know about, yet.

Tailoring your presentation well is a terrific value-add for your client, and a competitive edge for you. But, as both a science and art, it takes effort and careful attention. Avoiding these mistakes will help keep you out of trouble.

Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is a past president of NSA, and an international bestselling author and noted authority on leadership, team building, customer service and change.
Mark Sanborn
Mark Sanborn
Mark Sanborn