“Shock as Pope steps down two years after Brum visit”. It’s a wonderful headline. Where did it appear? The Birmingham Mail, of course. Only a Birmingham paper could write this headline – because only people in Birmingham could be interested in the Birmingham connection with Benedict’s exit.

I’m sure that the subs on the Mail wrote it with a smile on their faces but for anyone in the business of corporate communications and speechwriting this is quite significant. As I always point out in when I’m writing speeches for executives and CEOs, what is relevant to the audience is essential. It’s the same with an “angle” on a story. In the media, different publications, websites and TV and radio programme handle each issue very differently, depending on their audiences. If you want to know how to do an effective presentation it’s the same thing.

The Pope resigning is obviously a big story anyway, but the Birmingham mail was looking for an angle that would make it relevant to its readers. I think they’ve done pretty well – although it’s a bit cheeky to say the least. Thinking about your audience when you’re doing a presentation is essential. I’ve just been watching one C-suite executive give a long speech about what his company is doing without any reference to why it could be of interest or concern to the people listening.

Deciding on key messages that are relevant to the people you’re talking to and hoping to engage and convince, thinking about things that concern and affect them for better or for worse is an important part of the preparation before a presentation or speech.

It also means that you have to think about making your language relevant to your audience. You might be able to use technical words and jargon as well as acronyms with experts. However, try this terminology for a general audience and you will put them off immediately. You literally don’t speak their language.

So, well done to the Birmingham mail for finding an angle on this historic event that is relevant to its audience. I’ll make a mention of this when I’m next writing a presentation for an executive or doing speech writing for senior executives.