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Public Speaking and Communications - Know Your Audience

Updated on November 21, 2015

3 Simple Steps to Connecting with Your Target Audience

The tapestry of communication is a complicated one. An essential thread in communications is knowing your audience and serving the needs of your audience.

In communicating with others especially in presentations, you have a short window of time to be relevant and valuable. In this window of opportunity, you must not only deliver valuable content in a very well organized format but also in a memorable format. Being able to accomplish this task starts and ends with your "target market" or your audience. Know who you are speaking with. Know who you are working with - your clients, your peers. Know what you aspire to and the pathway to your aspirations will be paved with gold.

Come Monday - Jimmy Buffet

You know, as a writer, I'm more of a listener than a writer, cuz if I hear something I will write it down.
Quotation of Jimmy Buffett

3 Simple Steps to Connecting with Your Target Audience

  1. Know
  2. Mimic and
  3. Deliver

#1 Know Your Target Audience

Jimmy Buffet has had outstanding success not just as a performer with great music but as an entertainer creating a complete experience for his audience. Unlike perhaps any other entertainer alive today, he has delivered a sense of belonging with the goal simply of relaxing! He understands our human need to be happy, Buffet did more than just listen to his audience, he learned. Buffet knows the needs of his audience. Knowing the needs is the only way to deliver!

How did Jimmy Buffet create his new culture of "Parrot Heads"? He knew his audience. He listened, he assimilated and delivered exactly what the audience wanted and needed. From his quotes, you see he listened closely. On this video on the creation of Come Monday - he detailed the video was his life - no props. He simply expressed himself. He knew we all wanted a vacation. He delivered that vacation to us in his music and later in his exuberant Parrot Head clothing and Caribbean fun.

Similarly, Cheeseburgers in Paradise is a classic. This songs speaks to all ages - now and forever! No other entertainer has accessed our psyche and our interior desire of living in paradise.

Jimmy Buffett's creation of the Parrottheads extends beyond our love of vacations and Margaritas, it touches our very sense of belonging. The uniform of a Parrotthead is a Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops and board shorts or a grass skirt - even on men! Sidenote: Parrotthead is the correct spelling for Buffett fans to mimic the double tt in Buffett's name. Strangely a Parrotthead does not have to wear a parrot hat - the uniform is the Caribbean bright shirt, board short or grass skirt and sandals and drinking a Margarita.

Crossing generations is practically unheard of in marketing demographics. Buffet I am proud to report now has a younger generation aptly named the "Parakeets"!

Mimic your audience and deliver the desires of your audience and you are sure to be hit!

#2 Mimic Your Target Audience

Buffet is amazing in mimicking his audience.  No fancy masks, no make-up - his uniform is the uniform of a Carribean resorter.  No wonder his audience is attracted to him!  In his video about Come Monday he detailed the props were not props - those items were his life - right down to the model girlfriend who became his wife.

On a similar note, an absolutely brilliant communicator in Great Britain provided the zebra image above and made the following analogy:

"Zebras kept in captivity will congregate in front of a wall painted with black and white stripes!

This knowledge has allowed zookeepers to control (to some extent) an animal that has proved impossible to tame. It demonstrates that the more we know about an audience, the more chance we have of appealing to them.

Who are you communicating with?

What do we know about them?"

#3 Deliver The Needs of Your Audience

Communicating is personal marketing. To deliver to your target audience, the same principles of marketing to your target market. You must serve the needs of either the market or your audience.

The series of Dummies has received unprecedented publishing success.  Why?  Because the publishers listened and learned so that they knew their market, their reading audience.  Then they mimicked how we felt about learning - and thus "dummies" was born.

"With more than 200 million books in print and more than 1600 titles, Dummies is the world's bestselling reference brand."

" makes everything easier online, delivering expert tips, advice, and useful information directly to your computer. Using how-to videos, step-by-step photos, thousands of articles, and Cheat Sheets, our proven experts get you up to speed on a huge range of topics.

From hooking up a modem to carving a turkey, knitting your first scarf to loading your new iPod, you can trust to show you how to get things done—the easy way. Here's the how-to information you need, when you need it—right on your computer!"

Dummies would not have been success unless they followed all three steps to relating to their audience.  Step three is critical - now that you have listened and learned all about your audience, are able to mimic their clothing or their thoughts or feelings, you must deliver! 

Remember, your audience will forgive you of anything except boredom - it is up to you to deliver what your audience needs.

Identify Your Target Audience and The Problem You Wish to Solve

5 Tips for Public Speaking

#1 Listen and Learn - AKA Know Your Target Audience

Research who our audience is - carefully review what they wear, what they do, where they go.

Listen and learn all about the needs and desires of your audience. Whether you are a muscian or a writer or a publisher, your career success is dependent upon knowing your audience or your target market.

Jimmy Buffett detailed it best - as a writer, he is a "listener". He hears and writes it down. He conveys and records life in the Caribbean.

#2 Mimic Your Audience

Mimic your audience visually. If they wear a business suit, you must wear a business suit. If they wear fitness gear, swim suits, you too, must wear a swim suit or workout garb. Your audience needs to feel you are together, part of one association, tied indelibly together either by profession or personal preference.

#3 Deliver An Experience - Be Memorable

As Patricia aptly stated your audience will forgive you of anything except if you bore them. You MUST be MEMORABLE and deliver their desires and their needs! All of your actions must reflect your audience's values. Delivering an experience within the core values.

Remember prevention doesn't sell because the deliverables are hard to measure. When giving a speech, entertaining an audience or writing how tos - you must deliver and service the needs of your target audience.

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© 2010 Ken Kline


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    Post Comment

    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hi Lesa,

      You are funny! Yes, public speaking is a free talent - a talent that must be carefully crafted and honed.

      Thank you very much for stopping by.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I have exactly what info I want. Check, please. Wait, it's free? Awemeso!

    • sherrylou57 profile image


      8 years ago from Riverside

      Thank you for your great examples!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Carolina Muscle,

      Us babyboomers can relate! Thank you for stopping by.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I like your choice of examples.. excellent!!!


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