Conducting audience analysis is as important as giving the speech itself. It assists in getting into the heads of your audience. Appropriate use of the audience analysis results before your speech or presentation can exponentially improve your chances as a speaker to meet and exceed your audience’s expectations.
Over the years, professional public speakers have used audience analysis to improve their public speaking prowess. In contemporary times, the practice has become more widely used in different fields and also by new and professional public speakers.
The concept of audience analysis infers to the practice of identifying one’s audience and modifying his/her speech to adapt to the understanding, interest, beliefs, and attitude of the audience.
It can be referred to as an audience-centered approach.
To begin your analysis, you need to ask yourself some critical questions like, who are you? Why are you doing this? Who are your audience? Why are they your audience? What do they need? What value can you impart? What value should you impart? Is the topic of any relevance to them? Will your topic interest them? What are the challenges you might face?
These questions will aid in building the framework of your public speaking presentation pattern and the expectations of your crowd. Additionally, it will allow you to craft an adequate, tailor-made, and memorable speech to deliver to them.
Importance of conducting audience analysis before your speech
Understanding your audience, their background, needs, belief systems, and thinking capacity go a long way to determine the format of your speech. Been aware of certain demographics such as;
- General belief
- Educational background and many more.
All are important aspects that will help build up the structure of your speech, and this can only be achieved by conducting an audience analysis.
Getting to know your audience will give you ample information about them. This information will come in handy when delivering your speech as it creates an avenue to reach a common ground with them as the audience.
Audience analysis strengthens the prospect of achieving an audience-centered presentation.
At that point, you begin to tailor your speech to adapt to your audience. The content of your speech is automatically modified to suit that specific audience. Using this technique, you are not only going to speak to the audience but also interact with them on the topic.
Conducting an audience analysis before your speech can also create an avenue for a favorable response from the crowd based on your understanding of their thinking pattern. You no longer become an outsider; rather, you are perceived as one of them. Their body language, facial expression, and shoulder movements become in agreement with your speech.
To guide you in conducting a valid audience analysis before your speech, I shall provide you with ten (10) tips which will make your pre-planning and the final speech presentation an overall success.
Ten (10) easy tips on how to conduct your audience analysis
Here are some ways you can successfully carry out an audience analysis before your speech;
- The sample selection
- Interact with your sample
- Collect data
- Analyzing the data
- Become your audience
- Select supporting points
- Use words which will match your audience vocabulary
- Draw relevant sources
- Choose stories that are relatable to your Audience
- Personalize your call to action
The tips mentioned above will help you structure your presentation. Though these may look difficult, they are actually quite easy, simple and stress-free to conduct. As a matter of fact, these tips for audience analysis can be achieved in your living room either with a neighbor or even through an online interactive process (Facebook conference, Whatsapp meetings).
1. Sample selection
Get a sample of your proposed audience. It does not have to be the original audience but a selection from the age group or profession in perception.
For example, is when you are about to deliver a speech to a graduating class from a University, and you find out that sophomores will be attending too, as well as the graduating class’ parents, and younger brothers.
If that’s the case, what will you do about your speech? Will you speak only to the graduates, will their younger brothers, and sophomores be sleeping in your speech?
My advice? Write a speech that will make almost everyone one, if not all, feel like you are talking directly to them at some points of the address, as for the final points dedicate them to the graduating class.
2. Interact with Your sample audience
Meet with your selected sample. Interact with them to understand their mindset. Discuss the topic with them. This interaction will help you know how much the selected topic is of interest to them. Are you backing up the wrong horse? Is that the right topic for the category of the audience? Will you be able to impact/inspire much?
3. Collect Data
From your interaction with your selected samples, you would be able to collect the opinions and answers of each sample. This is called data collection.
One of the things you might find, following the example proposed above, is that the parents brought the younger brothers/sisters of the graduating class to inspire them to one day to also want to finish college.
4. Analyzing the data
After the data is collected, it is only wise that you analyze the response from your sampled audience. This will generally form the bases of your proposed speech, test the validity of your topic and guide you in forming a speech pattern for your event.
Going back to our example
After you found out that not only will you be addressing the graduating class, but also their younger siblings, you can include in your speech an inspirational bit of encouragement to these siblings to follow the footsteps of their older brothers/sisters graduating that day. You can also congratulate the parents for investing in their child’s educations, and so on.
5. Become your audience
The next point would be putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. When you do this as a speaker, you will be able to conveniently see the weak parts of your speech and how to build on it.
You can easily see the need and value you should input into your audience. With this realization, you can easily create a format which will be suitable to both yourself as a speaker and your audience.
You will also know how to dress up in a way that should prove comfortable for them when watching you on stage.
Following our example:
As a parent, on your son’s/daughter’s graduating day?
What would you love to hear from the keynote speaker’s address, what would inspire you as a teenager to want also to get a degree?
What would serve as a word of thankfulness and encouragement to the teachers and masters of knowledge to keep educating future generations of graduates?
Would you come with some shorts, and slippers to address the graduating class?
6. Select supporting points appropriate for the audience and the event at large.
Take out points which will be appropriate for your audience and build on those points.
Do your very best to stick to the main point of your topic while trying to speak in public. Make sure that the topics are in resonance with the interest of the audience and their beliefs.
Using our example
You are addressing the graduating class, their families, the university staff, and so on, and you’re trying to inspire all of those people there to face the real world and bring about innovation and development to the country. Please don’t go offtopic and mention things like how to be a good husband/wife; it’s simply not the right place or moment to do that.
You could venture to discuss the role of education in society, how the graduating class is a hope for a better tomorrow, and thank the faculty members, parents, and relatives for their support in helping to nurture these new graduates, and seeds of the future.
7. Use words which will match your audience vocabulary
Yes, you may be very articulate and capable of poetry feats that can’t be matched easily, that’s all good and well if you are addressing a group of highly educated, and specialized individuals. However, if you’re speaking in front of teenagers, high-schoolers, and so on, try using a level of vocabulary which seats well with your target audience. This way, there is an ample flow of information between you and your audience.
It would be unproductive and annoying to the audience to be listening to a speaker who seems to be the only one in the room who understands what he/she is talking about. Don’t be that Speaker!
If we go by our Example:
When you were doing your scout work (sampling your audience), you realized that there are going to be teenagers amidst the graduating class, parents who may or may not have had a high level of education, teachers, professors, engineers, and so on.
Since you know that, and you have the selected topic decided, now it’s time to add in some anecdotes, personal stories or famous quotes that can be easily understood by all.
Keep some parts of your speech focused on the level of vocabulary that is easily understood by your primary target (the graduates), especially if you are a specialist in their field.
8. Draw relevant sources
The best way to command authority is by citing sources which are well respected by your target audience. When talking to bankers, quote sources related to that. When speaking to young persons, quote sources which that age group can easily relate to.
This is an excellent way to make good use of your audience analysis exercise.
9. Choose stories that are relatable to your Audience
Take up stories that are catchy, stories that relate to your audience. Learn the required slangs, comments and remarks which spice up the conversation from your sample audience. Learn to be witty in the field.
The audience analysis exercise also serves to prevent you from telling stories and jokes which are offensive to the audience in question.
10. Personalize your call to action
Be unique. Let your call to action be special, something that can be easily associated with. Let it have the capacity to spur up emotions in your audience. This way, your speech has a lasting effect on the audience.
Going back to our example
You can advise almost everyone involved in the audience, critical things to add would be:
- The issue of unemployment right after graduating from university and how to deal with it
- The prospects of those who earned a degree and are now specialists in their field
- Entrepreneurial Mindset
- The importance of earning a degree and gaining specialized knowledge in this digital era, where people with no degrees are becoming billionaires (for the younger ones)
- The gift of education and why parents who invest in it are leaving a legacy for the next generation
- The masters of knowledge who keep educating and passing on valuable insights to the next generation, and how teachers and learning institutions are the pillars of any civilization
There could be more to touch upon, but these are just some ideas of how you could try and inspire all those attending your speech, and make them feel connected to you for the rest of their lives.
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The importance of conducting an audience analysis before your big day cannot be overemphasized. After all, we would never like to be caught off guard talking to high-schoolers, using a script prepared for PhDs.
Another important point I wanted to make before the End of the article is that as a speaker you must learn to be resourceful. In this post, we are mainly looking at a guest speaker, who will most likely be given most of the information about the venue, audience, and expectations by the person/organization who invited him/her to speak.
You can find yourself in situations where most of this information is not readily available. For example, you can be invited to attend an interview, and the only things you know are the company name, and the name of the person who called you. What will you do in this case?
I am guessing your first thought was to go to the company page, learn about their mission, vision, and core values, right? That is correct, but it’s not all you need to do. Remember that it’s not the company who will be interviewing you, but the person who called, and potentially the hiring manager for that position.
How can you leverage social media, your personal network, and the person/company who invited you to attend an interview, in getting the necessary information to make sure you ace that interview? What kind of person will you be speaking to? What are they looking for? All this can also be considered conducting your audience analysis.
These are the ten (10) best tips which will assist you in conducting your audience analysis before your speech. So, get on with your practice. Public speaking is not as hard as you may think. Follow these tips, and you get yourself set for that speech.
Thank you for reading this far, I really appreciated it. Let me know in the comments section how you used/use the tips mentioned here, and what other tips and advice you suggest for those getting ready to impress their audience?
References & Further Reading
Andrew Dlugan’s article on the topic is quite insightful. You can access it here http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/audience-analysis-how/