The more you know about your audience, the better you will be able to connect your topic to them. Audience analysis is not difficult. It basically requires knowing your audience well so you can organize your verbal, visual, and vocal delivery to suit their situations. When analyzing an audience, you aren’t trying to deceive, control, or force them; you are just making sure your speech suits them and keeps them interested.
Speeches need to be audience-centered; so audience analysis is a must. Design presentation – content, organization, and delivery – is influenced by the kind of audience expected at the presentation so make sure they understand the meaning and significance of the message. For effectiveness, a speaker should know the following:
1. Who are the listeners?
Try to take note of the general age, range, male-female ratio, educational background, occupation or profession, race, ethnic background, religion, geographical or cultural environment, civil status, income level and assets, group and organizational memberships, etc. of your audience.
2. What do they want from you?
Are they there to receive instructions? Do they want current issues explained? Do they also want to have fun? Do they need information? Have they come on their own or were they required to attend?
Voluntary audiences are likely to be homogeneous; they have things in common. Classroom students make up an involuntary audience; they are heterogeneous. They vary in many ways.
3. What is the size of the audience?
How large is the audience? Is it an audience of 20 or 200? In a classroom, you would be speaking to around thirty students. But in other settings, you may be speaking to a smaller group (like a buzz group) or a bigger group (like a rally).
Audience size may add to anxiety and may affect speech delivery, more so in the use of visual aids, the type of language you use, and so on. Overall, you want to speak more formally with larger groups.
4. Where is the venue of the presentation?
Will the venue be a room? What kind of room will it be – a conference room, a hall perhaps, or a small meeting room?
When you speak in a classroom, you are speaking in a familiar, comfortable setting. You know whether there is an overhead projector, whether the lights can be dimmed, and so on.
As you do speeches, you will learn more about other settings for public speaking, like outdoor stages, or mall and hotel lounges. You may be curious to know how it feels speaking while standing at floor level. Try to learn about podiums, technological support, microphones, the sound system, and so on.
Audience analysis can be done before the presentation, though most times it happens during the presentation itself. A sensitive speaker receives a great deal of information from listeners as the talk is being given. Often, the cues are nonverbal, such as attentiveness, facial expressions, restlessness, passiveness, or apathy. When these signs show, he can be flexible enough to adjust or modify to do a better job. Shifting places, gestures, voice changes, or maybe even audience involvement can prove to be useful.
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