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Chapter 16. Learning the Elements of Eff... > Understanding an Audience

Understanding an Audience

Some time ago I spent two years in Argentina. I’ve always loved to tell jokes, especially those that involve puns. I found that my Argentine friends often wouldn’t laugh at my jokes but would instead try to correct my Spanish. I had to explain that I knew what I was saying and that what I said was a pun. By that time, of course, the moment was lost. The problem wasn’t that my Spanish was bad or that I was saying anything wrong. It was that I didn’t understand that the listeners didn’t expect me, a newcomer, to have the ability to play with words the way I could.

As a presenter, you also have to determine who it is you’re speaking to and what kind of “filters” they have as they listen to you. How do you determine who your audience really is? The following are some considerations:


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