Do you really like to be surprised in a meeting? Not knowing in advance your audience is like entering a cage of an unknown creature…
Whether you are presenting to a single potential investor, or to a large audience of 200, there is a huge amount of information you can collect in advance to ensure that you achieve the desired response and action.
As a rule of thumb, in a business environment, the smaller your audience is, the more critical is the outcome of the meeting: the investor, the manager, the board of directors, the decision maker of an investment group, the purchasing committee of an organization etc. Any piece of information you can gather about every participant in the meeting, may turn out to be indispensable. First you have to research and collect the information.
You start by browsing all publicly available Online Sources. You will be surprised how much you can learn about a person in just a couple of hours of online investigation:
Linkedin, Facebook and other social tools – Nowadays people want to be discovered, and even if they care about privacy, they are likely to post and publish plenty of information about themselves. Check their online profile and learn everything you can about the person:
Title and description (how the person describes himself, position and status)
Education (any common education institutions? Do you know alumni from these institutions? Common fields of study?)
Work Experience (any common working places? People you know in these organizations?)
Interests (any common interests? Hobbies? Music? Films? Books?)
Friends (any common friends? any know or influencing friends? In what areas?
Personal status, spouse, kids, family.
The amount of efforts required in collecting information about your audience depends on the significance of the meeting and its consequences. Sometimes online sources are sufficient, but in certain cases you may need additional information from Human sources:
Based on online sources you know by now the identity of some common friends you have with the persons you are about to meet and present to, or you can identify among your friends, someone that may know persons from your audience (from past work, studies, common social club etc.). These linking friends can used a facilitators that can provide additional specific information such as:
Insights regarding the professional attitude and focal points (what are the most significant points in the eyes of the researched person, and if possible in view of the specific business situation).
Tips about the personality (temper, tendencies, special interests etc.).
Tips about the business conduct (especially from someone who recently had a business interaction with the researched person.
Now, what to do with all this collected information? You may have by now the pictures of the persons you are about to meet, their personal status, education, professional resume, common friends, personal interests and recent posts (professional and personal). You probably know about them more than they know about you. Much of the uncertainty factors are gone. You are in an advantageous position.
If you plan the meeting wisely, from the small talk while getting to know each other in order to create a friendly and favorably atmosphere when starting the meeting, to the accurately tight presentation, demonstrating your business offer while focusing exactly on the major pains and fears of your audience, as thoroughly researched in advance… you have a deal.