Know your audience

Public speaking tips tick

You wouldn’t run a marathon without knowing how far a marathon actually was. How would you know how hard to train, what to expect and how to succeed in running the distance?

Similarly, speaking in public becomes much easier the greater your level of preparation.

There are many things you can do to prepare, one of which is to gain a greater understanding of your audience.

Your speech can be increasingly tailored, and therefore much more effective if you know:

-         Your audience size

For example, larger audiences require a louder voice, wider gestures and a broader coverage of a topic

-         Your audience age

The fight between families on what to watch on the TV is a prime example of how different ages prefer different content

-         Your audience interests, or desired outcomes from your speech

Your overall objective is to satisfy your audience needs. Do they want to be inspired, educated, informed? If you are unsure of their specific targets, ask them!

-         The length of time you have to deliver your message

Running over your allocated time can frustrate an audience with little time to spare and not having enough content can be embarrassing for you and awkward for your audience. Practice to ensure that you have enough content for your speech

-         How interactive your audience expect your speech to be

Does your audience want to be lectured or to get involved in your speaking? Which will get your point across more?

The greater your level of preparation, the easier you make your task. Remember, public speaking is one of the few areas of life where you, the speaker have complete control over the outcomes of the activity.

Preparation, such as researching your audience well, helps you to control the success of your speech.

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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