Getting to Know You: Audience Analysis 51 It's important to consider appearance as well. How is your audience likely to be dressed? How do they expect you to look? If there is a great difference in appearance and style between you and your audience, you might feel either intimidated or superior. The same is true of your audience. For example, if your audience is dressed casually in shorts and T-shirts and you deliver your speech dressed in a suit, they are apt to feel anxious or even hostile. This makes it harder for you to win their trust. What to do? Check with your host before the speech. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for the occasion. There's lots more on this in Chapter 31, "Dress and Grooming." Gender Bender If possible, it's helpful to find out what percentage of audience members will be female and what percentage will be male. Why? A number of researchers believe that the gender differences in conversational styles result in the miscommunication that often occurs in male-female conversa- tions. For example, researchers have learned that women are much more likely to indicate understanding by nodding and giving affirmative verbal cues than are men. Men, in contrast, interpret these signs as meaning "I agree," rather than "I understand." A male speaker who sees female audience mem- bers nodding may feel that they are inconsistent in action if they later question what he has said. A female speaker who does not receive any feedback from male audience members may feel that she is being ignored. Also consider whether male and female audience members might view your topic differently. Dif- ferent members might very likely have different interests, experiences, and knowledge about the topic you are discussing. This clearly affects your choice of topic and method of development.