How to engage everyone in your audience
The four questions are based on ‘The 4Mat System’ by Bernice McCarthy. The system is useful for structuring presentations in a way that the maximum number of people will understand. It works because members of your audience will be interested, to a greater or lesser extent, in the four different types of questions. By covering all four of them you will appeal to most, if not all, of your audience.
Think through the four types of questions on the minds of any audience
Why it matters
Answering the four questions enables you to:
Plan content that will interest all, or most, people
Structure content in an easy-to-follow sequence
Reduce the risk of missing something vital from your talk
Increase the chances of gaining buy-in
Enhance the possibility of the audience taking actions you desire
What to do
Put yourself in the minds of your audience and answer the questions below.
Imagine you are an audience member:
‘Why should I listen?’
‘Why is this topic important?’
‘Why are you the right person to speak about it?’
Think of more ‘why’ questions pertinent to your topic.
‘What’s the key message?’
‘What’s the big idea?’
‘What’s the theory or model?
‘What’s the key information or evidence they need to hear?
Write down any more you can think of.
Ask practical questions such as:
‘How does it actually work?’
‘Can you explain the practicalities?’
‘How about some examples?’
‘Can we see some evidence to support your theory?’
‘Can you demonstrate it?’
4. What If?
There are two kinds of ‘what if’ questions.
a. Negative ‘what ifs’?
These are potential snags such as:
Risks in what you are proposing
Flaws in your argument
Counter-examples that might dilute or refute your case
Exceptional circumstances when your guidance would not apply
Such concerns might sound like this:
‘What if there is not enough in the budget?’
‘What if the scope of the project gets wider?’
‘What if the client doesn’t pay us