Audience Analysis

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The ACA Open Knowledge Online Guide

Tyrone L. Adams, Ph.D. [tyadams@louisiana.edu] D’Aquin Professor of Journalism and Communication Department of Communication University of Louisiana, Lafayette and Peter A. DeCaro, Ph.D. [pdecaro@csustan.edu] Department Chair and Associate Professor of Communication Department of Communication California State University Stanislaus

The Significance of Audience Analysis: Strategically Considering Your Target Populace It cannot be said often enough: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! Knowing your audience—their beliefs, attitudes, age, education level, job functions, language and culture—is the single most important aspect of developing your speech. Your audience isn’t just a passive group of people who come together by happenstance to listen to you. Your audience is assembled for a very real reason: They want to hear what you have to say. In public speaking, the audience is the entire reason

This module helps you understand: The critical importance of understanding your audience. The various methods used in analyzing a given audience. The five layers of any given audience analysis.

you are giving the speech; thus, the audience is the most important component of speechmaking. We analyze our audience because we want to discover information that will help create a link between the speaker and the audience. We call this link identification. Aristotle loosely called it “finding a common ground.” This isn’t a one-way process between the speaker and the audience; rather, it is a two-way transactional process. When you ask an audience to listen to your ideas, you are asking them to come partway into your experience as a speaker. And, in return, it is your obligation to go partway into their experience as an audience member. The more you know and understand about your audience and their needs, the better you can prepare your speech. For example: Bob Mullins, a local bank officer, was preparing for a speech at the Rotary Club in Dallas, Texas on “finding the right loan” for a diverse ethnic audience. He knew his topic extremely well, had put a lot of hard work into his research, and had his visual aids in order. One of the things he had not completely considered, however, was the audience to which he would be speaking. On the day of the event, Mr. Mullins delivered a flawless speech on car and home loans, but the speech was not received well. You see, on this particular week, a major segment of the audience consisted of the “Junior Rotarians” who wanted to hear about “personal savings accounts” and “college savings plans.” It was a critical mistake. Had Bob considered the full nature and makeup of his audience prior to the event, he might not have been received so poorly. A hard lesson learned. This module is dedicated to understanding how a speaker connects with an audience through audience analysis. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

I. How Do I Analyze My Audience?
Whenever thinking about your speech, it is always a good idea to begin with a thorough awareness of your audience and the many factors comprising that audience. In speech communication we simply call this “doing an audience analysis.” An audience analysis is when you consider all of the pertinent elements defining the makeup and characteristics of your audience. There are many elements to consider, too, such as: age, gender, education, occupation, language, ethnicity, culture, background knowledge, needs and interests, and previously held attitudes, beliefs, and values. Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list. But, it does help you get a good general understanding of the demographics shaping up whom, precisely, you will be addressing. From the Greek...
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