The Importance of Knowing Your Audience

A Conversation with Screenplay Writer Matthew Alan Siess


A segment from Chapter 5 of Master Your Story

When you’re talking to a five-year-old about going to the dentist, the conversation would be about defining what each part of the dentist office is, who the assistant is, who the dentist is, what the machinery looks like. You would be describing the tools that they would use, and many of the things that they would need to know to be comfortable when they arrive at the dental office. You would not be speaking of the gas, or the shots, nor the painful things that a dentist office would be to a five-year-old going for the first time. Preparation is an important part of going to the dentist.

Audience preparation would be the same. They do not need to understand, as a brand new salesperson or a brand new person, how long a labor’s going to be, how long it’s going to be before they make a million dollars. That’s not going to solve their problem, nor is it going to encourage or empower them to take one single next step.

However, if you can paint the picture that allows them where they are to have an answer, to have encouragement, to have empowerment, to have a process, to have a how-to, then you’ve truly given the maturity of the audience hope, that they can enact change in their lives and others. If you skip three to five steps and start talking past things they’ve ever experienced, or can reach to envision, you have just taken them to a place of perhaps pain, or shame, or less than, or inability to be enough. You can see these powerful emotions would have effect on how the audience receives what you had to say.

This is something most speakers and storytellers, in the beginning, do not consider, or they are worried about how they look, how the story sounds, if they’re dressed well, and if the audience will even show up. The professional story is exactly that. It’s a prepared story with intent, with an outcome to deliver with absolute professionalism.

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