"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Read: Audience Analysis.
How does one avoid speaking faux pas while motivating and captivating every audience member, no matter what the topic? Audience Analysis.
Learn to love the audience – they are the ultimate measure of your success. Speak to their needs, desires, and aspirations.
Greater audience understanding = greater audience success. A starving person will always buy your sandwich.
Here's how to conduct your audience analysis in One Year, One Month, or One Minute.
If you're already preparing for a speech a year away, you're either crazy or aiming for Oprah. While preparing for a speech a year in advance may not be necessary, laying the groundwork now is the best way to be prepared whenever the time comes. The best analysis isn't so much sit-down-and-research as it is hi-I'm-Bob. Here's things to think about and ways to find your audience before they even know you're speaking to them.
1. Socialize. It's the most simple, most effective, and most often overlooked audience analysis technique. If you really want to know a company's needs, don't go to talk to the boss, go to work with the employees. Go to lunch with them – without the intent to sell. Later on you'll be better prepared because you know them as they really are.
Application: Whenever you're going to give a speech, take a moment to think about when you've talked to people who will (or would be) in your audience. What did they talk about? What did they talk like? What were their concerns? What jokes did they tell? What dreams did they have?
2. Practice. At some point, chances are you will need to speak to someone you don't know. It's a split-second situation that you can get better at and prepare for years in advance with mini-pitches. On Saturday or any time you have free time (or want a challenge), take an object you own but don't want and go to a public place. Then don't let yourself leave until you've sold it. To make it harder, sell something everybody already has. Grab an egg out of the fridge and get more money for it than it cost you. Not only will it help your split-second personality analyses, but you'll get rid of junk and end up with some pocket change.
Application: Why wouldn't people buy your item? What did it take to sell the item? What kinds of appeals did you use – were they personal, aspirational, humorous, etc? How did different people respond to your mini-pitch? Who knew preparing for speeches was this fun?
Here's where you do the fill-out-the-form fill-in-the-blanks analyze-the-results stuff.
First, 'create an audience member.' Here's what you need to 'know' about them:
No matter how much work you've done beforehand, there's always more to learn when you walk into the room. Is the audience...
Awake or asleep? Wake them up – or take advantage of their alertness!
Predominantly Male or Female? Males laugh more easily when females are present!
How do they dress? Don't look for income, but rather for the event's perceived formality.
Is their body language open or closed?
As you speak, what do their facial expressions say?
Do they laugh at your jokes?
No matter what the answer, there's a way to make it work! Speak, ponder, and improve with audience analysis in One Year, One Month, or One Minute.
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