Managing audience expectations
November 25, 2014 By Anders Colding-Jørgensen


Your audience very often came for a reason. And a big part a successful talk, is giving people what they came for – and a bit more. That’s why it’s so important to manage and meet your audience’s expectations. And to measure how you’re doing.
Consider this example:
Your audience has taken time off from work to listen to your talk, because they want useful tips and tricks on how to use their power tools better – but instead you give them an extremely well researched talk about the history of tools, from tools of the stone age and to modern power tools. What do you think people will feel? A lot of them will feel well entertained, but still not satisfied. And who can blame them? After all, they came because of a promise, that was not delivered upon.

Managing expectations has two key components

1) Before the talk: Designing your “contract” with the audience
The announcement of the talk – on-line or on print – is your contract with the audience. It’s what tells what they can expect from participating. If you over sell your talk or your speaker, you won’t be able to deliver and people will not be satisfied. Under selling your talk or speaker is not any better, because this means that you will probably not be able to attract the key audience for your talk.

As a rule of thumb, your pre-talk announcement should tell people:
  1. What the purpose of the talk is
  2. Who the talk is relevant to
  3. And who the speaker/lecturer is

Creating a good contract with your audience (and the organizers as well) is often easier with a talk that you know well and have given many times before. With new material, you should therefore pay extra attention to the pre-talk material.

2) At the talk: Delivering on your “contact” with the audience
This may sound a bit too obvious, but when you are preparing your talk, you should read your contract again and ask: “if people have only read this description of the talk, how can I best fulfill their expectations”. Very often we get lots of creative ideas and think of new angles – or we simply forget the actual words we used, when we described a talk a couple of months ago. Re-visiting the contract and building your talk around it, ensures that people get what they expect.

#1 parameter on SpeakerScore is “Expectations”

Because how well you deliver on your “contract” is so important for the success of a talk, it is one of SpeakerScore’s “big four” parameters. Using SpeakerScore with your talks, can dramatically help you adjust your contract with your audience, especially if your’re giving a new talk.

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