Make It Personal

I’ve got two monster projects at work right now–a complete redesign of the organization’s website and a high-stakes presentation for 600 people. Interestingly, the use of personas to define audiences has played a part in both projects.

One of the books I’ve been reading to help me prepare for the presentation is “slide:ology” by Nancy Duarte. She is principal of Duarte Design, which is the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Before creating any slides for a presentation, Duarte recommends building audience personas first. She says, “Painting a picture of a real human with real needs helps you connect to the more effectively.”  She also suggests placing the audience persona slide at the beginning of your deck because “that way you can refer back to the people you’re trying to reach.”

I’ve found that using personas definitely makes it easier to discuss different audiences with my colleagues. Just today I was in a meeting with the vendor we’re using to produce the deck for the big presentation, and she asked, “What do we need to know about who’s going to be at this event?” I’ve never used personas before to talk about different audiences, but I tried it today, and it worked incredibly well. It was a lot easier to describe “Jim,” “Phyllis” and “Alex” than to discuss “segments.”

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