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June 2007 - Six Questions to Ask about your Audience

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

June 2007

Six Questions to Ask about your Audience

In December 2002 I wrote a column on the importance of knowing your audience. Nothing contributes more to the success of a presentation than knowing about your audience. Here are six questions to ask yourself before you prepare either a written document or a speech.

  1. Who are they? When others ask me to look at something they have written or look at an outline of a speech they plan to give, I always ask about the audience. Many times they can tell me practically nothing. You must learn as much as you can about your audience if you want to make the document or speech fit them.
  2. What interests them? Knowing such basic information as age, gender, education level, interests, experience and beliefs of audience members will help you choose interesting and informative supporting material.
  3. What do they need to know? Failure to determine what the audience needs to know causes many communicators to include extraneous or “nice to know” material. Most busy people don’t have time for either.
  4. What do they already know? There is no need to waste your time or the time of audience members by telling information they already know. This is especially true in the workplace where “time is money.”
  5. What makes them different from others? Successful speakers and writers determine what makes their audience unique; then they tailor the message to the audience. Audiences react better when they realize the message was prepared with them in mind.
  6. What can I do to make it easy for them to understand? I will discuss this point in more detail next month. Until then, remember effective communicators meet the needs of their audiences.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

April 2007 - How to Win
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