As speakers we all know
the importance of properly preparing our material far enough in advance so we
may have sufficient time to rehearse and "fine-tune" our speeches. Unfortunately,
this is not enough to assure that your speech or presentation is well received.
Your speech preparation must also include gathering information about your audience
and their needs. A well prepared speech given to the wrong audience can have
the same effect as a poorly prepared speech given to the correct audience. They
both can fail terribly.
It is critical that your
preparation efforts include some amount of audience analysis. The more you know
and understand about your audience and their needs, the better you can prepare
your speech to assure that you meet their needs. Speech preparation should use
what I like to call the 9 P's.
Poor Performance of the
Putting on the Presentation.
relax you more than to know you have properly prepared. The stage fright or
speech anxiety felt by many speakers is due to not knowing enough about the
speaking environment or the audience. The more you know about your speaking
environment and your audience, the more relaxed you will be when delivering
your speech. Many speakers; however, often overlook the need to include any
kind of audience analysis as part of their speech preparation. Proper audience
analysis will assure that you give the right speech to the right audience. Most
professional speakers send their clients a multi-page questionaire in order
to gather enough information about them and the speaking event to properly customize
their speeches. Using the word "A-U-D-I-E-N-C-E" as an acronym, I have defined
some general audience analysis categories that these surveys should include.
- Who are they? How many will be there?
U nderstanding - What is their knowledge of the subject?
D emographics - What is their age, sex, educational background?
I nterest - Why are they there? Who asked them to be there?
E nvironment - Where will I stand? Can they all see & hear me?
N eeds - What are their needs? What are your needs as the speaker?
C ustomized - What specific needs do you need to address?
E xpectations - What do they expect to learn or hear from you?
questions which fit into each of these eight categories and ask the client or
audience to tell you what they want. Essentially, ask them what they need and
give it to them.