How to Know Your Audience Before a Speech

So, you've accepted the opportunity of a speech. perhaps at a conference or as part of a seminar series. And, of course you've already asked all the questions of your conference organiser. But, before you get cracking with your conference speech there's the no-small matter of your audience. Because you really should aim to find out as much about them as you can. Therefore, in this tip we look at how to know your audience before a speech.

How to know your audience

How To Know Your Audience When You Next Give A Speech

It's always best practice to do your audience research up-front and early. Why is that? Well, really it's because it's going to save you a lot of time later. That's particularly so if you prepare a speech for one audience and then find out you actually have a different audience. That's a problem. And it's a waste of your time.

But, fortunately there are a few steps you can take to discover more about your audience.

How To Know Your Audience

STEP1: Get hold of the delegate list from the conference organiser. 

STEP 2: Analyse the job and industry data on the delegate list. 

STEP 3: Profile your audience and then target their needs with your speech. 

These three steps are the basis for everything you need to know your audience. Your first step is to obtain the delegate list. You can, and indeed should, ask the conference organiser for a list of the expected, or invited delegates. There's really no problem with asking for this list. But please note that the names on the list will be fluid until the day of your speech. Because that's only to be expected really. Also, don't expect volumes of contact data for the delegates. That might be too much, particularly when you consider data security concerns.

But job titles and industry sectors are always valuable. So even if you only have these, that's great. Because your second step is to analyse the delegate profiles. Consider which industries or which industry sectors are due to be at your conference. And then consider the job titles. Can you establish a pattern? Purchasing managers or industry specifiers, perhaps. And then, can you see a seniority profile? Will your conference audience be heads of function? Or will they be general managers? Every bit of data helps.

With the third step you really have to earn your money. Because here you have to establish the interests, wants and needs of your audience. Now it's time to assess their motivations as specifically as you can.

How To Know Your Audience Needs

  • Review some trade publications or web sites for current articles. Consider the topics and questions asked.
  • Speak to people who attended the conference last year and establish why they went. Or, you could ask a colleague or acquaintance why they plan to go to the conference.
  • Speak to someone who gave a speech at last year's conference. And then aim to discover what the audience really wanted from the speaker. See if you can corroborate this with the conference organiser. They are always there to help.

When you really do know your audience's expectations before you give your speech then you have a great chance of success. That's because all of your planning, preparation and organising hits the right points. It's no small recipe for public speaking success. Just, know your audience.

"Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing."

Werner Von Braun

Public Speaking Skills Tips

You can discover a whole series of public speaking tips from Time to Market. Read them, listen to the podcasts or watch the videos. And, when you want to give your own public speaking skills a further boost, please don't hesitate to consider some training or coaching. You can always contact us when the time is right.

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