Getting to Know You: Audience Analysis ________________________________________________________________ How does my audience feel about my topic? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Will my audience be against me, or will I be preaching to the converted? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Does my organization have a history of conflict or cooperation with this group? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Is my audience neutral? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Why was I asked to speak? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ 52 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Spin Doctor Sometimes you'll be given free reign on topic choice; other times, you'll be given a topic. What happens if you've been assigned a topic that's a real stinker? By all means, address the topic you've been assigned. However, you can slant your topic to appeal most to your audience and also meet your strengths. Next to elementary school orchestra concerts, few things are as unendurable as listening to a series of speakers parroting the same weary plati- tudes. You want to speak to the audience's concerns. If you think your audience is opposed to what you have to say, start your message on common ground. As you speak, be as clear as you can be. Never assume that your audience is getting your point: Messages that might be clear to receptive audiences can easily be misread by negative ones. This is not the time to go out on a limb, because hostile audiences can be the verbal equivalent of a chain saw. Also, avoid flaming the fire; don't say anything that will rile up your audience. Spin doctor techniques are discussed in detail in Part 3: "Writing Your Speech." Your Place in the Sun Your place on the agenda can determine the tone of your speech, as well as its content. Sometimes, your speech may be the single most important event at a gathering. In these cases, you'll often be the opening speaker. This means that your speech will set the tone for the event--you will essentially affect how the audience receives the entire program. Class Act The most important tools in audience analysis are common sense and empathy, which is the ability to put yourself in someone else's place. Most likely, your audience is not just like you. Use what you already know about people in addition to what you find out about the organization to predict likely responses to your speech.