LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

December 2021
Volume 17, Issue 12

These are monthly tips on boosting business and professional results.

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Below find this month’s newsletter, hot off the press!

  • Special Message: To Create Compelling Content, First Pinpoint Plausible Personas
  • Feature Article: Make Your Presentations Remarkable Using a Needs Assessment

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Note from the Author

A Secret Ingredient for Making Unforgettable Impressions

Snoring audience watching a boring presentationThis month’s newsletter introduces a vital, but little-known ingredient in creating compelling presentations: a needs assessment.

This critical first step can mean the difference between creating an indelible impact on your audiences or leaving them with just another boring, forgettable moment in their lives.

Why does this matter? Before putting in all all the effort needed to conceptualize, design, script, illustrate, rehearse, and deliver your message, why not consider which aspects of each situation are most important to you?

For example, you’ll want to ponder the impact you need to make on the people you aim to influence. Are you dealing with a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion, or something more mundane? Reflect on how essential it will be to achieve a particular outcome. Think deeply about your audience’s point of view and where they are coming from. What do you want them to do after hearing your message?

In response to all of these and other key considerations, you can scale your time, energy, and vision to suit your messaging requirements.

I hope you enjoy today’s features, and please be sure to leave your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

To Create Compelling Content,
First Pinpoint Plausible Personas

Before you design information for a group of people — especially folks youve never connected with firsthand — its highly beneficial to produce a few personality profiles for typical audience members, so you can gain insight into how they think.

The User Is Always Right by Steve MulderOne way to divine your audience’s personalities is using a fictional being called a persona. A persona is a believable, lifelike character sketch representing one segment of your target audience. Your audience comprises people who will attend your presentations; use your Web site, hardware devices, software, documents, or instructional content; or who will peruse your marketing materials, for example.

To make sure you understand what your audience really needs or wants to hear, you can “interview” your cast of personas who represent your users, customers, clients, or learners. Each one will tell you a different story about his or her behaviors and preferences that will help you design your content more effectively.

Would you like help with this process?The User Is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas,” by Steve Mulder, explains each step of persona creation, including tips for conducting user research. You’ll also learn how to use personas successfully, such as for making detailed decisions about Web site and information architecture, content, and design. Read on for more ideas...

Feature Article

Make Your Presentations Remarkable
Using a Needs Assessment

by Adele Sommers

What’s the “secret sauce” behind producing presentations and communications that corral the interest of your listeners, users, visitors, readers, learners, clients, or customers — and spur them to take timely and meaningful action?

Answer: You need a dependable way to impress your audiences and inspire them to respond! Their follow-up actions are the key — otherwise, why would you spend all of the time and energy to plan, prepare, and deliver your message? Is there any reason to leave the outcome to fate? Of course not!

Thats why a needs assessment is Step One in the systematic process of planning, composing, illustrating, and delivering a message that fits your audience like a glove.

So, what should your needs assessment entail?

A Needs Assessment Should Answer Several Key Questions

We often need to inform and persuade people for very important reasons. Those reasons might involve professional, educational, charitable, scientific, or any number of other important causes.

To plan appropriately, you’ll want to consider the purpose of your presentation, the intended audience, the outcome, and any downstream uses for your material. The answers can help determine how much time and effort to invest in the near term.

1. Whats the purpose, whats at stake, and how critical is the result?

Meeting discussionFor example, is the purpose of your message to:

  • Give a routine status update?
  • Pitch a proposal or a project?
  • Persuade people to donate to your cause?
  • Present a study or research paper?
  • Recommend a method or solution?
  • Teach a class or give a lecture?

Routine status updates may not seem nearly as critical as courting a product sale, seeking proposal buy-in, or requesting project funding, for example. The need to make a strong, lasting impression increases with the importance of the occasion.

So what kind of “return on impression” (ROI) do you need to make?

2. What is your anticipated audience’s frame of reference?

Here, you’ll consider your audience’s perspective. What makes them tick?

One of your audience’s unspoken questions will be, “What’s in it for me?” This is exactly what you’ll need to determine to broadcast your message on station WIIFM!

Truly understanding your audience’s perspective will help you pinpoint the tone and degree of formality of your presentation. If the audience will be unfamiliar with your subject matter, you’ll want to consider how to bridge the gap between their frame of understanding and yours.

To do this, you can start by identifying a few fictional representatives of your expected audience, called personas.

Man researching at computerPersonas reflect the characteristics of typical colleagues, customers, clients, or constituents to whom you will be delivering your message.

You might want to select a handful of these characters to research and profile in depth. Think deeply about what they would need to hear — and how they would need to hear it — to become receptive to your ideas. Especially if the audience will be new to your ideas or terminology, you’ll want to research the following...

Demographically, will your audience include:

  • Any particular generation, or a mix of age groups?
  • Specialists within a specific industry, field, or discipline?
  • People with specific entrepreneurial, academic, military, government, or corporate backgrounds?
  • Executives, directors, managers, colleagues, or instructors in your own organization or institution?
  • Political leaders or local government decision-makers?
  • Members of a particular society or community?
  • College students or other types of learners?

Psychographically, do they harbor certain beliefs, values, political views, buying patterns, and so on, that could help or hinder their ability to embrace your ideas?

3. What actions do you want your audience to take as a result?

Speaker standing at a podiumAfter they hear your presentation, do you want people to:

  • Endorse your proposal?
  • Buy your products or services?
  • Follow your recommendations?
  • Approve funding for your project?
  • Promote you or your organization?
  • Contribute to your purpose or cause?
  • Apply something they have learned?
  • Take some other kind of action?

Be very specific about what you want people to do, which is your “call to action.” If you don’t have an explicit or implicit request of your audience, why not?

After hearing your message, your audience ideally will be fired up, or at least very curious to find out more. To help them take action, provide a means to do it before they turn their focus to other things. It might involve calling attention to a signup form, instruction kit, contact information, or an online platform where they can immediately take their next steps — while they’re still in the mood to do it!

4. Could your original concept later balloon into something more?

People floating in an expanded hot air balloonFor example, might you later expand or adapt your material to:

  • Create a self-paced training tutorial?
  • Produce an educational or marketing video?
  • Develop a classroom-based training course?
  • Design a product package, such as by bundling related reports, media, and other components?

Although each of these options will have different production requirements, it will definitely help to plan ahead.

For example, lets say that youre planning an in-person presentation, and youve determined ahead of time that youll want to use that event as a launching pad for a full-blown course youve developed on the same topic. With that in mind, you can aim to provide all of the signup forms, brochures, flyers, or whatever else youd need to highlight your call to action. Make a point to strike while the iron is hot — when theyre still excited about what theyve heard!

In conclusion, by routinely completing a needs assessment before you begin work on a presentation or communications project, you’ll powerfully boost your audience’s desire to consume and respond to your message. Each aspect offers another layer of clarity to help you whip up a recipe for success that you can continue adapting and reusing well into the future.

Copyright 2021 Adele Sommers

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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