When you are asked, requested, or invited to speak, whether it is for your company, a business organization, a leads club, or some type of conference, how familiar are you with your audience and their needs? As much as you may want to deliver a stellar presentation, if you do not know to whom you are speaking, then you may be wasting their time and yours.

If you think that standing in front of an audience is about you, then you are mistaken. It is about how your message can help, enlighten, educate, and/or motivate them. The truth is that your purpose for addressing an audience is because of them and about them. Those who are really successful and skilled on the public speaking circuit understand this basic fundamental.

Unless you know to whom you are speaking, you cannot even begin the creation of your material. With this in mind, you must ask your host or the person inviting you about your audience and how your topic can or should affect them. Only then can you tailor your material around their needs.

A good example is a presentation I gave at a conference for non-fiction writers. Specifically, the area to be covered was how to deal with the media. While I teach voice and presentation skills, in this particular situation, I stressed speaking with color. Color is that which makes the voice interesting to listen to and is marked by the life, the animation, and the emotion you express in your vocal variety, facial expression, and body language.

From my experience, I have found that writers often express their emotion in their writing and not in their vocal delivery. Of course I am generalizing but having worked with thousands of voices, I have found that there are some groups of people, such as accountants, research scientists, and athletes, who often do not speak with color. They keep their emotions bottled up inside of them. For these groups as well, I would focus on being more expressive in their delivery

When I talk to realtors, on the other hand, I do not stress color but instead deal more with the quality of the speaking voice. People in sales speak with color; their interest often lies more with the sound of the voice.

Different audiences – different approaches. Yes, I am covering the same material in a broad sense, but my focus will be different. How I build my subtopics; i.e. voice quality, volume, projection, and color, will be entirely dependent on my audience. This means my outline will differ as well as the anecdotes I use.

Knowing your audience is of utmost importance for your success in public speaking. Take the time to inquire about those who will be in attendance so that you can satisfy their needs.

Author's Bio: 

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.