Department of Communication


Chapter 5 Notes



Analyzing the Audience
Audience-Centeredness - the audience is the reason we speak; not just to hear ourselves talk. Keep their needs first and foremost when putting together and delivering your speech. Always try to adjust to the audience’s needs/concerns; not just to demonstrate our knowledge. Audiences are self-centered, meaning their interest lies in not making you happy as a speaker, but in gaining value for themselves from what you have to share. When we create a closeness or a bond with your audience, we have developed a sense of identification in which the speaker and audience share common goals, values, or experiences.

Your Classmates as a Audience: Show them respect; your classmates are every bit as legitimate of an audience as any collection of people. You can be just as effective (or ineffective) with this audience as with any.

The Psychology of Audiences - audiences will process and interpret our speeches slightly different than we do. Our frame of reference makes us unique and our point of views are ours, alone. Audience tend to be concerned with their problems and issues; they are egocentric in that respect. Consider how an audience is likely to feel about your subject.

Demographic Audience Analysis (People) Factors:

1. Age - goal is to minimize differences if they exist; don’t point out differences; be yourself and not who the audience is; audiences care about what you have to say; not your age. Aristotle’s view of impact of age on audience; still relevant today.
2. Gender - while there will always be speeches that are more interesting to men than to women and vice versa; our goal is to present topic that can be relevant to both genders. Don’t fall victim to gender stereotyping; gender distinctions are less today than in the past in many aspects.
3. Sexual Orientation - you are entitled to have whatever view you wish about this topic, but never forget that your audience will interpret your message their own frame of reference. Just be careful how you use language; and the words you choose.
4. Racial/Ethnic/Religious/Cultural Background - recognize that many in your audience may come from different countries, ethnic grounds, etc. Try to present topics that appeal to a broad base of people; not just to those of a single group if your audience is largely heterogeneous.
5. Group Membership - very common in professional business lives; be sure to focus on issues relevant to this group; what their interests and needs are.

Situational Audience Analysis (External) Factors:
Factors every speaker must consider that go beyond the audience per se; outside factors that impact the speech.

1. Audience Size - In general, the larger the audience, the more formal we should be in language and delivery. We never want to get too informal; but smaller audiences allow for a more relaxed presentation style.
2. Physical Setting or Location - where the speech will be delivered. If possible, check out the room prior to the speech. Determine if a PA system will be needed; if an overhead projector is available, etc. Location can have a significant impact on your and your audience’s attitude.
3. Time - when is your speech to be delivered; time of day, week, month, etc. Never underestimate its impact. We often cannot control it but we can always adapt to it!
4. Disposition toward your topic: Try to gauge their likely interest in your topic; possibly how much they already know about it, and their likely attitude (positive or negative). You have to ask yourself if this is a good topic if it is one in which your audience is likely to have little interest in a topic that they know even less about.
5. Their attitude toward you, the speaker. Just be sincere, demonstrate your knowledge and show respect for the audience (in short, follow Wallace’s ethical guidelines) and you’ll be fine. If a speaker has damaged his or her ethos (credibility) they may not be able to deliver the message to the audience.
6. Don’t violate the occasion - audiences come together for a specific reason; be sure to satisfy that reason. In other words, don’t deliver a persuasive speech if we are expecting to be informed. Not only this, but do not deliver a topic that is insulting to your audience or makes them feel uncomfortable. Children will sometimes try to shock an audience for the fun of it. Adults have more respect for their audiences than to do this. You can challenge and stimulate an audience with controversial ideas, but you must always show respect for them in the process. Speakers who lack of maturity are unable to do this.

The remaining material of this chapter (pages 128-133 is a bit redundant and not required for you to read/study)