Knowing Your Audience is the Key to Effective Speeches

When speaking in front of an audience, it is always best to know as much as you can about the audience ahead of time.  Situations do arise however when the speaker does not have any information about the audience or time to prepare prior to speaking.  Fortunately for the speaker, there are some techniques that can be utilized to help get to know the audience and provide an effective presentation regardless of the situation.

The primary rule of effective public speaking is to know your audience. Many practices such as conducting a meet and greet, or discussing the audience ahead of time with the meeting organizer have been conventionally effective techniques.  Presenters also frequently spend time in the organization to get to know the culture and audience.  Find out as much as possible about the company and who they serve.

Unfortunately for the presenter, there are times when the previously mentioned techniques cannot be employed, but an effective speaker knows that there are alternative ways to get to know an audience.  One method of getting to know an audience is to review the company or event website.  In doing so, a presenter can get an idea of the mission statement and type of person that is targeted.  The internet can also be used to search demographics.  This information may be varied and provide clues for the speaker, such as the types of businesses in the local area, economic information or possibly real estate information.

Speaking directly with the CEO or event planner will provide valuable information about the audience.  If the CEO or planner is not available, speak to others who are involved as they often are the ones "in the trenches" and have true insight as to the thoughts and motivations of the potential audience.  If for some reason, that option does not work out, try to find out who the previous speaker was and contact them if possible. Dialogue with satisfied customers can be invaluable as can actually sampling the product or services that are offered.

If you find that you have limited access to gaining information, keep in mind that your primary question of whomever you speak to should be, "What is the principal question or concern of my audience?"  By hearing the answer to this question, you will often find that as a speaker, you will gain the necessary information to create a successful presentation.

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eculligan 5 years ago

Very informative hub. Thanks for the information. I've done tons of presentations in front of upper management and still get nervous. I stumble on words the first 2 minutes until I'm comfortable. I always hope that one day it will go away.

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