Recently I was asked on a Thursday to make a presentation to the Dallas Young Lawyers Association Leadership Class at a luncheon the following Tuesday. Needless to say, I did not have much time to develop the presentation. I asked to meet with the organizers and I met with one of them late Friday afternoon, but I still wasn’t sure how I could provide the greatest benefit to the class on Tuesday. On Monday morning I asked for a list of the 35 members of the class. When I received it, I sent each one an email asking for topics they wanted me to cover or questions they wanted me to answer. When I received responses, I replied and offered my thoughts on the topics each person mentioned. I learned later that one of the class members said: He was working the room before the room was assembled! Not bad… 
I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but he was correct. Taking the time to send an email to each person and then replying to any emails I received in response, introduced me to the class members and let them know I cared about them. I have always approached my presentations to construction trade associations the same way. If I know who will be attending I like to reach out to each person and find out what is on his or her mind and what they would like to learn in the presentation. Then, I make sure I begin my presentation in a way that brings out what I have been told. 
Whenever we make presentations, the members of the audience are thinking: What is in this for me? To be successful both as a presenter and as a rain maker, our presentations must clearly address this question. I have found asking what attendees want to learn is a great way to make sure I will connect with the audience in a way that is meaningful to them. 
If you would like some specific examples of how I have begun presentations to connect with the audience, contact me.