When presenting a new idea, it is just as or even more necessary to speak to your opponents as it is to your fans.
With this in mind, read this piece in last Tuesday's New York Times:
For Mosque Sponsors, Early Missteps Fueled Storm
By ANNE BARNARD
Joy Levitt, executive director of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, remembers her first conversation with Daisy Khan around 2005, years before Ms. Khan’s idea for a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan morphed into a controversy about Sept. 11, Islam and freedom of religion.
“Strollers,” said Ms. Levitt, whom Ms. Khan had approached for advice on how to build an institution like the Jewish center — with a swimming pool, art classes and joint projects with other religious groups. Ms. Levitt, a rabbi, urged Ms. Khan to focus on practical matters like a decent wedding hall and stroller parking.
“You can use all these big words like diversity and pluralism,” Ms. Levitt recalled telling Ms. Khan, noting that with the population of toddlers booming in Manhattan, “I’m down in the lobby dealing with the 500 strollers.”
Clearly, the idea that Ms. Khan and her partners would one day be accused of building a victory monument to terrorism did not come up — an oversight with consequences. The organizers built support among some Jewish and Christian groups, and even among some families of 9/11 victims, but did little to engage with likely opponents. More strikingly, they did not seek the advice of established Muslim organizations experienced in volatile post-9/11 passions and politics.
The organizers of the Muslim community center jumped straight into the practical logistics of their idea without first knowing their audience.
This is a mistake speakers make all the time.
We get so caught up in our content, that we forget to make the audience essential to the presentation.
From the Green Room: Whenever you are presenting a new idea, take the time to think carefully about how your idea will be received. Don't bother to craft your content until you know your audience - your potential fans... and potential opponents.