The first question a presenter must answer involves the listening audience. The composition of a group influences what and how one prepares. Determining the makeup of an audience involves certain considerations that can be broken down into two categories: Demographics and Psychographics. “Demographics” help us define “age cells,” while “Psychographics” inform us about “type cells.”
Demographics. Initially, it is helpful to determine the demographic composite of the audience. We start by determining the average age of the crowd. Are there children? If so, what age? If they are teenagers, are they young teens (13-16) or older teens (17-19)? If we find they are young adults, are they 18-24, 25-34, etc.? Now let me explain why this demographic analysis is so important.
The age of an audience influences the type of language, examples, and illustrations presenters use. For example, if I were talking to a group of young adults 18-24 years old about recent changes in the music industry, it would be more effective to drop names such as “The All-American Rejects” and “Green Day” than “Chicago” and “The Beach Boys.” Talking about the former would help me sound relevant and credible, while using the latter would date me and make me sound out of touch.
The key is to know the demographic makeup of your listening audience. Some audiences are demographically narrow in scope, but most are not. Generally, you will find that audiences are comprised of mixed age groups, and knowing this will help you tailor your examples and illustrations to impact the larger segments within the group.
Psychographics. Determining the psychographic profile of the audience is imperative as well. As previously stated, psychographics refers to “type cells,” and all audiences are comprised of them. These cells inform us of the audience’s inclinations and preferences, which is helpful information when addressing a group. Below is a short list of potential “types” you might find in a particular audience:
Males or females
Blue-collar workers or professionals
Senior-level or junior-level managers
Managers or employees
Post-grad students or undergrad students
Wine drinkers or beer drinkers
Conservatives or Liberals
Religious or non-religious individuals
Doctors or lawyers
Teachers or students
Early adapters or late adopters
Animal lovers or hunters
Suffice it to say that the age and type of people in any given audience will greatly impact the way you prepare to speak to them. But while the audience’s profile will influence your method, it must never compromise or cause you to water-down your message. Instead, the core message simply needs to be packaged in terms relative to the audience at hand. Consequently, it is highly beneficial to know everything you can about the demographic and psychographic nature of the audience you will be addressing.
Gary is committed to helping aspiring and active speakers improve their presentations skills. This is accomplished through Purpose Centered Public Speaking Workshop and personal one on one mentoring. He also offers a free public speaking phobia test and monthly newsletter to those who visit his website.
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