No familiarity can breed contempt in your audience

How heartening it was to see two columns in the last of issue of CIT focusing on elements of good communication. At the risk of testing readers' patience, I'd like to share my own feelings on the subject.

Mine is a forlorn appeal to all speakers. Please, please, please - before committing pen to paper for your script, before you even load your first bullet point - Consider Your Audience.

I attended a seminar recently and felt as if I was eavesdropping on a departmental meeting. After a perfunctory reference to the speaker's name, rank and corporation, the audience was plunged into a soup of jargon and acronyms. The information was spat out in a rapid, staccato fashion without any context to cling to. I scribbled notes like a lunatic and it was only after reading and digesting them later I knew which questions I would have asked to seek much-needed enlightenment on the key points. As it was, nobody availed themselves of the Q&A session and we all staggered out at the end, knowing we'd well and truly lost the plot.

The fundamental questions to consider when preparing any seminar, speech or lecture, must be: who will be in the audience? How much do they already know about the subject and what information are they expecting to hear?

Of course, if the speaker has been approached by a third party to share their knowledge, then equal blame must be apportioned to the feckless opportunist who limited their brief to date, time and place.

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