How to Analyse your Audience for a Speech

How to Analyse your Audience for a Speech
Melbourne Classical Radio When we're about to give a speech/presentation, we might be thinking a lot about things like our body language and tonality, the content of our speech. But one thing that I've been guilty of and I've seen a lot of people not pay attention to is actually understanding who the audience really is and the same speech delivered to two different audiences can have vastly different results. 

So that's what we're going to talk about here today. What are the important things that we need to know about our audience even before we start to craft our speech and how do we really go about getting to know that information? 

We're going to break this down into two parts! We are going to start by talking about what are the important things we need to know about the audience. And secondly, how to go about getting that information. 

So starting with what we need to know, there are four things over here. First, we're going to start off with the basics. These are things that we definitely should know about the people we are about to speak to. This includes things like the size of the audience, the average age, gender, the occupation. 

Um, these are basic things that if we don't know, or if we are wrong on, the entire speech can be screwed differently. For example, if the audience is going to be of a smaller size, the level of interactive elements that you can add here can be so much more intimate as opposed to something with a larger audience, where it has to be a lot more structured and a lot more formal, maybe. Um, if the audience is skewed towards a particular age or gender, we need to have our content catering towards them. 

If you have an audience that has both the age groups within one particular cloud itself, the content needs to be wide enough to be, to be inclusive enough, to have both the age groups understand what you're trying to say. 

So the type of pop culture references you might be using, the type of slides you might be showing, the type of language you use, it all comes down to what the audience can really resonate with. And if you have a very diverse audience in front of you, it can be kind of tricky to include all the elements that can appeal to both these different age groups. 

So now, knowing this information will give you the direction you need to take to craft the basic content and tonality of your speech, the next thing to take into account, and which is the most important thing is the context. What I mean by this is that your speech. 

The place where you are speaking, Is it a corporate setting? Is it formal setting? Is it a wedding toast? Is it an informal party? Is it a toastmaster speech? Is it a contest? What is the context you are speaking in and what type of tone do you need to address this particular audience with? Sorry, the light went off. And understanding, this is the kind of crux that we need to know to, um, uh, to craft our tonality around it. 

And by tonality, I don't mean voice modulation, but the overall tone of our speech, because I've done this once wherein, I have to speak at a very formal corporate event and I was just using very humorous language, very informal words and there, it just did not vibe with the audience. The entire setting was very formal and kind of poise, and I was just coming around goofing about on stage, which did not go well with the crowd. 

And on the other hand, when I was in college, I was a lot more formal. I was a lot tighter on stage, whereas a humorous tonality or an entertaining personality would have just been so much better if we have this resonated so much better with the younger crowd like a college crowd. So, understanding the context of your audience, the setting of where you are really speaking at is very, very important to understand the impact of that speech. 

One more thing to keep into account here is that while understanding context, we need to know whether the people you are addressing, are there voluntarily? or are they required to be there? If they are there voluntarily, you have won half of the battle already. They're most likely, already interested in what you have to say. 

They're invested in you as a speaker. And the thing that you're about to speak about, but if they're required to sit there then they probably already decided to, even before we get on stage. Well, when I was in college. 

I was doing this small sales gig and I had to address the college students. And, um, the teacher would kind of make them wait back right before their break and allow, give, give me a few minutes to speak to them. And of course, they did not want to sit there. They would rather go for their break than really talk to some sales guy, who is trying to pitch some kind of a product or service to them. 

So knowing that information that they were dead, and they were forced to sit there. Uh, it helped I craft the context of my speech to at least get some of their attention or some of their empathy to listen to me. So I would start the speech. Uh, so I'd start my pitch by saying that, "Hey guys, I know that you are kind of forced to sit here and would rather be on the break than listen to hear me talk. 

But, if you could just give me a few minutes of your time, I'm sure I can add some value to you." And this would win over at least a few of them or at least it would make them slightly more patient to sit and hear me talk. 

So understanding context, prime importance. The next thing that we want to know is the knowledge of the audience, whatever the subject we're speaking on, is the audience fairly new to that? or they have a fair amount of understanding of whatever the subject is? If they're fairly new to it,, your content needs to be a lot broader. 

Um, you have to cover all of the foundational elements, your tone needs to be a lot friendlier and encouraging whereas if they are a lot more advanced, once in in terms of knowledge, Uh, you can use a lot more jargon, you can be a lot more technical. 

You can be slightly harsher with the audience by expecting them to know certain things. And the level that you're interacting with them on the questions you're asking them, your entire content and delivery can be a lot faster and a lot heavier in terms of the information you are providing. 

So understanding knowledge would just help you get the sense of how to craft your speech in terms of if you can get more advanced or keeping it, keeping it more fun. And then the last thing that we need to know about the audience, is their mood. Now, um, just I've acknowledged this so many times and it's just never worked out well. 

Even if we know our speech, even if, um, our material is top-notch. And even if the audience wants to listen to you and wants to be there for your speech. If your speech is after a lunch break, or if you're the last speaker in a four-hour event, the audience obviously just doesn't have the capacity to listen to you or knowing more. 

Um, by that time, they probably just wanna go home uh, understanding this mood is very important to know when you are going to speak to the audience and what time of the day it is. What number of speakers you are? How into the event the audience is when you are going to be on the stage is extremely important because if you're supposed to go on the stage at a time when the audience is not really primed, it is not very enthusiastic. 

Try and cut your speech a little shorter, even though you're allotted, maybe 20 minutes or one hour to speak, having, um, fewer points to talk about or concerning your material. Try to make it slightly more fun and interactive. 

Well, even if you're not probably fully prepared for that or didn't account for it before adding those elements in, cutting something shot will just help in that situation because the audience is just not going to be able to absorb that much information at that point. So understanding the mood of your audience, have you bought it, you might have to make some last-minute changes if you don't know the subject. 

Uh, if you don't know when you're going to be really talking. So try and get that information early on. So if you, so if you're going to be at a stage where they're not going to be able to pay that much attention, you know, how much content you need to cut down, what type of things to add in a speech to take out, and whatnot. Okay. 

So those are the four things that you need to know about our audience. Now let's talk about four things that we can do to really get this information. The first go-to thing that I always try is to contact the host of the venue or the person who has invited me for the speech presentation pitch or whatever it might be. 

Um, they usually have they, they might be coordinators of that particular event and they probably would be having a good understanding of at least the basics of the audience, things like the age, size, Um, occupation, level of knowledge, and experience. 

This type of information is probably fairly easy to get from the person who's hosting. Uh, who's the host of the venue or the person who's invited you for that particular event. One thing to add over here is that if you do have access to this person, and if they allow you to access the database of the audience: their email IDs or phone numbers, you can even send out a small survey to the audience. 

I do understand the few nuances that you might need to know before you actually craft your speech, but if they're unwilling to give you the data, you request them to pass on the survey, to the people who are, would be present for them. 

Um, but this is kind of like a 50-50 thing, it really depends on your relationship with the, uh, with the host. It depends on how willing they're really to do this for you because it will little bit of extra effort on their part. So if that is a possibility, and if you do need that extra information, then a survey is something that you can try as well. 

And other important things to ask the host is to know that especially if you're giving this speech in a country or a locality that you are not familiar with is to understand how that any biases that you already had. 

So are there any beliefs or anything that you should probably stay away from talking about, uh, when you're addressing that audience that you should be aware of. Knowing this is very important, especially if you're not aware of the culture or the culture of the audience who, whom you're going to be addressing because, um, certain things might be offensive in some places while they would be local or normal language to you. 

So, knowing those things would be fairly important, especially if you're completely unfamiliar with that basis of the culture. The host is not accessible to you. 

Another way to get some information about the audience is to use LinkedIn. This LinkedIn has come to my aid a lot, especially for pitch presentations. And I have to be pitching to a boardroom of about 10 to 15 people. 

Um, to go to people's LinkedIn profiles and understand what their experience and job history is. It helps me know what type of things do I need to include in my presentation. Do I need to make it a lot more foundational? Are the people fairly experienced enough that I can just jump straight to the point? Is there a mix of both crowds? What's the median age group? These things will help me kind of just craft my presentation a little better. 

If you are speaking to a very large crowd, LinkedIn might not be the best option, although you can and identify some key people within the audience and at least get their background information so you have somewhat of an understanding of it. If the internet is not cutting it for you or the venue host is not available. 

The best thing to do is to arrive early and greet the audience that's attending that event. Now this might be a last-minute thing to do, but it'll at least help us give us some understanding about things like what their location and what the education background is, what the average, the average occupation is. 

Age group and gender and things along those lines. But this time you probably already have a fair understanding of the context you are in, and what time of the day you are going to be delivering your speech, just so that you can predict the mood of the audience. 

So that information is already there. This is mainly done to get those slightly more basic things in place so that if you think that they're not really, if there are some aspects of the speech that are not related to this audience, And if none of these things work for whatever reason, there's a technique that you can use, which I learned in Toastmasters, but I've also seen one of my favorite people use it. 

Uh, his name is Gary Vaynerchuk and I'm sure you have heard of him well, and he uses this technique called call and response. Early on in his career, when he would go around speaking at events, he would ask the audience at the very beginning. 

How many of them have never heard of him? And almost more than I think 50% of the audience would raise their hands. And this would give him an understanding of how much context he needs to set about himself before diving into the actual informational points that the audience was actually there. 

So if more than 50% of the people don't didn't know about it, he would start by talking about his backstory, who he is, why is he an authority in the space and why people should really listen to him? So having this call and response technique is slightly advanced and you might be required to make a few tweaks in your speech or presentation as you go along on the spot as well, depending on what the audience is the audience is responding with. 

But if you really have no understanding of certain things that you need to know then this is the last resort that you can use as well. And that's about it four things that we need to know about audience and four ways to try and get to know those things. 

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