Know Your Speech Audience

Plaid Shirt Guy Proves The Point

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Sep 09

As a public speaker you really want to know your speech audience. That is, you want to know them before you start to speak. That's why the best public speakers put a lot of thought and attention into researching their audience.

know your speech audience

Know Your Speech Audience

Now, we aren't going to suggest that the President of the USA doesn't know his audience. Because we sense that he probably does know them. His base. His core voters or core support. That's what he does. But, perhaps he could do a bit more research next time.

Know Your Speech Audience In Montana

Because the President came near to being upstaged in Billings, Montana on Friday by a High school student. Now, he's become known, in a very short space of time as the "plaid shirt guy". However, it's not his dress-sense that's the source of the admiration. It's his obvious facial contractions as he listened to the President.

And, of course, you don't need to be much of a body language expert or a lip reader to know that the plaid shirt guy is a disbeliever. His name is Tyler Linfesty and he's a Democratic Socialist. Of course, once his mannerisms became obvious to the stage managers overseeing the event, then young Tyler was removed. And, his place was taken by some more serious young supporters.

Stage Managers…Know Your Speech Audience

Now, that's stage management for you. But it also points to the fact that the stage managers made a mistake with this one. They didn't know their audience quite as keenly as they should have done. Because the audience "backdrop" is key to many campaign speeches today. But, you have to know your audience when you use a "backdrop". Famously Barack Obama got it wrong with his Kalamazoo speech in 2010.

There's no doubt that it will happen again. But it's a good learning point for conference organisers everywhere. Know your speech audience. And, of course, it's great fun for everyone else. And talking of fun, we really did enjoy the Sabah speech sensation. Because in this State Assembly speech, Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai really did know his audience a little bit too well.

You can always discover plenty of public speaking tips with our regular series of tips, podcasts and videos. So, whether you want to know your speech audience, or prepare for your next conference speech there's something here for you. And, when you are ready to give your public speaking skills a further boost, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

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