Designing for Your Audience

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 , 2 comments

Designing-for-Your-AudienceDesigning for Your Audience

Any presenter worth his salt knows that a presentation should be targeted towards the audience. Your presenters, your message, and your media should all be selected on the basis of what is most likely to have the effect you want on your audience.

Quite rightly, most of this focus goes on the message. What do your audience want to hear? What will interest them? What arguments are most likely to persuade them to agree with you? Your message and presentation language can have the biggest impact on the end result, and should be your primary concern. But there are other aspects of your presentation that can be tailored to suit your specific audience, and these can provide the icing on the cake to an effective presentation.

There are some things you can do at a design level – even on a slide-by-slide basis – that can have a real impact if tailored for your specific audience. The tips here are particularly useful for sales presentations, but can be adapted for different styles.

Use their logo

Use your logo, and your prospect’s logo, together on a slide. Whether just as an introduction, or in a design to include them in the visualisation, it gets them to actually see the two of you side by side – a great way to encourage your prospect to imagine working with you.

Use your prospect’s corporate colours

This may sound obvious, but using the right branding can have a huge impact in a presentation. You will probably want to include your own branding and corporate colours, but using the specific colours your prospect uses (down to the RGB references, if you have them) can work well too. Just make sure that whatever colours you use them with don’t clash!

Familiar diagrams and Images

Use diagrams, charts and images that will be familiar to your audience. If you have access to their particular database, draw your images from there. Using resources they refer to themselves will show that you understand their business, and this demonstrated understanding can be hugely beneficial when you are pitching for a large deal.

Keep to an Appropriate Level of Professionalism

If you are presenting to your colleagues, you have some scope to include zany colours and more light-hearted images. If you are presenting a bid to the Head of Finance at a multi-national corporation, you want to portray the most professional image possible. If someone is trying to decide whether your organisation is worth an investment of millions of dollars, you don’t want to look like you’ll spend more time messing around than providing them with a respectable return. In short: level your presentation at your audience, and ‘professionalise’ your slides according to the level of seriousness required.


In case you hadn’t noticed, all of the above tips are examples of mirroring. As much as possible, mirror your prospect. Use the same language, the same descriptions, even the same font as the client. You want to show them that you’ve done your research, that you’ve understood their business, and that you’re dedicated to fulfilling their needs. Mirroring their style is the best way to do this.

This may be a design article, but it’s well worth the mention that the most important aspect of this method is mirroring their language. If they say they’re looking for ‘cost reductions’, don’t say ‘cost efficiencies’; use their specific terminology. Rephrasing their points won’t resonate anywhere near as much as using their terminology and language.

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2 Comments to Designing for Your Audience

  1. #1

    Ronan Kinahan

    4:49 pm, May 24th, 2012

    Curious on the matter of using a client logo. Have you ever had a client who objects to this as it is their property and not intended to be used by third parties?

  2. #2


    3:59 pm, June 1st, 2012

    A client? No, as we are usually designing for them, and branding the presentation is clearly in their interests.

    We have several clients who don’t want us to publicise thier use of our services, they see us as giving them competitive advantage and don’t want their competitors to know. EDS had that policy but once they were bought by HP we were allowed (which is great given a 72% win rate for them when using us). As a general rule most companies don’t object anymore, they even publish thier logos on sites to be downloaded foc but at high resolution and correct colours etc.

    The bottom line is that of the purpose of a logo is to build brand recognition, why would you object to people using it?

    As an aside, our terms and conditions state we are allowed to use the work we produce (removing client confidential information) to publicise our services. Clients have to opt out to stop this. Most don’t bother, as they usually agree with me that any publicity is good publicity!