Audience Analysis In Public Speaking

by Bob Walsh

This is Part 4 in our series on public speaking. You can read part 1, part 2 first, but you definitely should at least read part 3 (Audience Analysis & Public Speaking) before reading this, as these two belong together.

Ask this person:

  • what kind of challenges do you face within your everyday life?
  • What does a typical day in your life look like?
  • What do other people say to you?
  • What do you like most about ______ (the problem or topic that your speech relates to)
  • What have you already tried to solve this problem/get better at doing ____?

Really pay attention to their answers – they’re worth their weight in gold (well, metaphorically speaking – answers don’t really weight anything after all…)

public speaking advice

When you talk with the person about these things, then also be sure about what they are saying, the exact words that they use and try to have a sense for what they are not saying. That’s how real audience analysis in public speaking works.

So you really want to read between the lines, but you want to separate the actual answer and your interpretation of their answer. It’s very important that on the one hand you know exactly what they say and that is data and you don’t want to mess with the data, you want to keep it accurate.

On the other hand, you want this area you where you kind of interpret their words and you try to read between the lines and you try to find the hidden meaning in what it is they tell you.  Because let’s face it, most of the time there is a hidden agenda. Sometimes we say something, but what we say is not really the issue that we care about the most and you want to try to identify the issue which we care about the most.

Audience Analysis Done For You

And another thing that you can use to actually just go into a bookstore or check out Amazon and look out books about the topic that you are going to speak about. And then when looking at the books just look at the cover and read everything that is written on the cover and try to get a sense of what are the most important things these books talk about.

Because many times people who write the covers of these books are people who have done a lot of market research and they actually talk with a lot of people. And so this is kind of a way how you can piggyback on a huge amount of professional research to better understand your audience.

Online Discussion Forums

Another thing you can do to better understand your audience is to check out internet forums that are about the topic that you are going give a speech about and find out what are the most common questions, what are the questions that seems to stir up the most reactions and you if have the time, even read through some of the posts. And not many public speakers actually do all these works, but it’s crucially important.

Here some videos on audience analysis from expert village that will offer you different approaches to getting to know your audience:

It’s Work, But It’s Worth It

This is the foundation of everything else that you do. The better you understand you audience, the more thoroughly you go through audience analysis in public speaking, the better you will be able to give a speech that will
a) blow them out of their socks,
b) really get a reaction,
c) touch them both emotionally and rationally and
d) lead them to act.

And even though not many people think of this, the most important skill in public speaking is not to be charismatic or persuasive or influential or good looking, it’s actually just simple empathy.

If you can see the world through the eyes of your audience, then you will be able to give really great speech even if you are not charismatic or good looking or don’t have fancy power point slides or anything like that.

Master Public Speaking Step by Step Program (click here for more info)