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Empathy is King

Empathy is King

When making a presentation, you need to understand your audience.

When I cycle through Cambridge, I often encounter these potentially lethal threats:

  • Daydreaming drivers
  • Preoccupied pedestrians
  • Silly cyclists

Apparently I'm a ninja on a mountain bike, invisible until we nearly collide. It's infuriating, frustrating and I simply don't understand how they're unaware of what's going on around them.

Taking Sides

However, it's worth considering what's happening from their point of view.  Perhaps, just perhaps:  

  • the young lady crossing the road by the Rice House on Mill Road didn't look properly because she was being berated by her boyfriend. 
  • the driver on Hills Road didn't expect me to be travelling at a Bradley Wiggins-like speed (on a good day I'm like a locomotive).
  • the cyclist by Anglia Ruskin University has only ever seen imbecile cyclists, and genuinely believes that the rules don't apply if you're on two wheels.    

Perhaps they subsequently felt bad for getting in my way or were humiliated by my (legendary) self-righteous tutting. Or perhaps they were never going to see that they'd done anything wrong.

Have Empathy

When making a presentation, you must understand your audience; they may have been forced to attend, some may be experts in the subject you're covering, others may have received some bad news. Or it may simply be 4:30pm on a Friday (good luck with that). Whatever it is, you should be armed with the best weapon in your arsenal: information. Do your homework!

If their needs, experience and perspective aren't part of your research, then you put your success at risk - a bit like not looking both ways before crossing the road. 

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