Speaking to a Large, Well-informed Audience

by Jacob
(Durham, NC, USA)

Audience, by Cecilek

Q. When speaking to a large, well-informed audience, would a brief and concise background presentation of basic facts be advisable, or would it be better to go right into the details of your subject?

A. Hmm... such an easy question, such a hard answer. Without knowing more details about the audience, it's hard to say. Here are a few things that you might want to take into consideration.

  • How uniform is your audience? No matter how well-informed they are, no one looks at a subject from a exactly the same angle. If you are demonstrating a new medical technology to an audience of doctors, you probably don't need to cover the basics of medicine. You might, however, need to give some background on techniques that are common in some medical fields but uncommon in others.

  • How contestable is your topic? If you're speaking politics, you always want to give a basic background overview, solely because not everyone will agree on what the basic background is.

  • How large is the audience, and how interactive is the presentation? If the group is smaller, you'll be able to ask for feedback and watch individual expressions and responses to see what you need to cover and emphasize. People can ask questions is the audience is smaller. If the audience is larger, however, you won't be able to monitor individual responses as well. Further, audience members won't be as prone to ask questions. So, as a general rule of thumb, the bigger the audience, the more basic background you should cover.

Hope these help. If you have any thoughts on the subject, use the comment link below to continue the conversation. Happy speaking!


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