You’ve been invited or requested to speak and while your immediate reaction may be debilitating fear, at some point, you begin to focus on your material and/or your delivery. My question to you is what is goal? Are you aware that unless you know your audience, your goal cannot be fully recognized?

  • Too often we are so concerned about what we are going to say and how we are going to say it that we neglect our reason for speaking.
  • What are the needs of those who will be sitting in your audience? Have you researched them? Are they a group provided by a particular firm or have they come on their own accord because of your message? Of course, it is also possible that you are speaking as a member of Toastmasters or as a member of a presentation skills class. Perhaps you are talking to an organization like a leads group or a rotary club.

    The point I am stressing is that before you can delve into what you plan to say, you need to find out more about those to whom you will be speaking. Ask your host or the person who has invited you about your audience. How did he/she hear about you? More specifically, what are their needs? Other questions you should ask deal with their age and their background. Is it a mixed group or not?

    Addressing an audience with your message is entirely dependent on them. Were I speaking to a group of health workers about voice improvement, my outline will be somewhat different than if I were to talk to a group of coaches. With the former, I would be emphasizing the value of diaphragmatic breathing; whereas, with the latter group, I will pay more attention to vocal abuse. In both cases, I will be discussing the voice and diaphragmatic breathing. My approach, however, will be different. And, it will vary as well were I to speak to a class of college students versus a group of retirees. Even my language will vary according to my audience.

    The point I want you to understand is that your audience should determine your goal. What will they gain from your presentation? What are their needs? The last thing a group of senior citizens is interested in is college savings! They’ve already been there and done that!

    As good as your material and presentation skills may be, not knowing your audience is a guarantee of failure in public speaking because your success is entirely dependent on your listeners. Always remember that public speaking is less about you and more about them!

    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. To see how voice training can improve your presentation skills, visit Voice Dynamic.

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