Know your audience

Whatever the occasion, your speech must always be targeted at your audience.

If you are familiar with your audience, for example if the occasion is a large family gathering, then your speech should acknowledge and build upon your existing intimacy with your audience. The use of names and personal details of members of your audience can help to engage your listeners.

If the speech is to an unfamiliar audience then an early goal of your speech must be to build a degree of trust with the listeners.

You must know who your audience are in order to best decide how to affect your message upon them.

The audience at a public speaking event is the most common source of fear for novice speech makers and public speakers. That's absolutely understandable. It's not natural to stand in front of a large group of people, all of whom have expectations of the speaker and his or her speech.

However, the surprising truth is that, in most cases, the audience is a sympathetic friend. Whether or not the audience knows who you are, human nature dictates that they are very sympathetic to you and what you have to say. Most people appreciate the difficulty of your role, they understand that you have something to say and they want the time they spend listening to you to be worthwhile.

In other words, before you start speaking, most audiences have a vested interest in wanting you to succeed, and that translates into an attentive, supportive group. Of course, it is important that you maintain their interest and attention, but if you have followed the steps so far, especially seeking feedback on your speech then you are sure to be on solid ground.

There are exceptions where an audience may be more skeptical at the outset. Examples of such events could be the presentation of a product to an unqualified audience or the presentation of a controversial scientific paper. In such cases the best way to overcome such audiences is with the conviction of your argument and your confidence in what you have to say. You are unlikely to get every person to agree with the tenets of your speech, but you will certainly gain their respect for your position.


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Sample speeches

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