Know Your Audience  

By Susan Ibarra 

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At a recent gathering of Eskimos, the VP of Sales from Ice, Ice and More Ice presented to the group the benefits and necessities of ice…


 One of the Eskimos leaned over to another and asked, “So why is he here and why is he talking to us?”


This is the question your audience thinks every time you get up and open your mouth.  If you do not follow the cardinal rule to give your presentation purpose and form, you will loose your listeners at best.  Worse yet, they may begin to resent you for wasting their time.

 Let’s Talk

When a person has to speak, what should they talk about?

This question takes on multiple answers and opens up many questions, which will be covered in  upcoming issues.

 Clearly, effective communication requires thinking, homework and correct implementation.     

That’s hard work.  It’s also a specialty. The use of visual imagery, written words, verbalization or honing in on the other senses to produce a desired effect requires strategic planning, know-how and imagination. 

Everyday we are communicating in dozens of ways from phone calls, emails, casual chats at the water cooler, memos, reports and formal presentations.  We put loads of energy and time into the subject matter.  And while we are caught up in the content from our standpoint, we have a tendency to ignore ‘The’ most important factor.  Which by the way is how we begin to answer the opening question, “What should you talk about?”

Know Your Audience

To understand who is listening, reading or watching, you must switch your focus from your concerns as the writer or speaker to the concerns of your reader or audience. 

You have to ask yourself some objective questions so you can begin to create a mini profile of your audience in order to get to know them.  Asking who, what, when, where, how and why about your audience will help pull you out of your own point of view so you can focus on your audience’s concerns.  Getting to know your audience will help you fit your information to the audience’s need.  Your information will send the message.  The way information is conveyed has very profound consequences.  For example, its important to find out what your audience may already know about your subject so that you can avoid boring them with too much background or confusing them by not explaining enough.

Having an audience strategy is essential to successful communication.  By asking yourself, Who is your audience? What do they know?  What do they feel? and What motivates them? your communication, (hence message), will have a much better chance of getting through to the right people, the right way, the first time, as they like it.

Thanks for the question George.

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