The Importance of Understanding Your Audience Before You Speak

An interview with Hassana Birdsong


There are three phases in audience analysis. The first is adapting to your audience before you speak. There are three ways to do this: demographic analysis, attitudinal analysis, and environmental analysis. Demographic analysis involves age, gender, culture, ethnicity, race, religion, and educational level.

Audience analysis is the process of examining information about your listeners. That analysis helps you to adapt your message so that your listeners will respond as you wish.

In everyday conversations you adapt your message to your audience. For example, if you went to a party the night before, you would explain the party differently to your friends and family. To your best friend you might say, “We partied all night and there were tons of people there.” To your mother you might say, “Oh, I had fun with my friends.” And to your significant other you might say, “It was fun, I had a great bonding time with my friends.” In each of these situations, you are adapting your message to your listening audience.

There are three phases in audience analysis: adaptation before, during, and after the speech.
Demographic Analysis involves age, gender, culture, ethnicity, race, religion, and educational level. Attitudinal Analysis addresses the audience’s attitudes, beliefs, and values. Environmental Analysis is finding out things like the seating arrangement, the number of people likely to attend, and the room lighting. The way the seats are arranged will affec the audience’s response. It is also important to know how many people will be there for the speech. And the way the room is lighted will affect the way the audience responds. If it is dark and the speaker is showing overheads, there will not be conversation. But if the room is light and open, the audience may feel more free to talk. The seating arrangement, the number of people and the room lighting are all factors that will affect the speech.

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