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Chapter 2: Audience Analysis

The Importance of Audience Analysis

-Audience analysis consider audience, essential to successful presentation

- To help craft a successful message, consider:

-What is position of audience on my topic?
-What are the interests of my audience?
-How knowledgeable is the audience about my topic?
-What are the demographics of my audience?

-Identification the process of expressing ideas and beliefs that you and your audience share
-Builds common ground, ensures you wont alienate or offend audience, establish good

-Word selection closely related to identification process-

-Choose words can understand
-Can effect credibility of speaker
-ie. Use terms well=expert,
misuse & mispronounce= incompetent & amateurish

-Doesnt mean simple tell audience what want to hear, instead present a message that audience
will hear (listen to and think about)

-3 types of audience analysis: demographic, psychological, environmental

Demographic Audience Analysis

-Demographics- traits that describe your population or audience (ie. age, gender, geographic
location, group membership, sexual orientation, ethnicity, occupation, etc.)

-Placing too much emphasis on demographic analysis can lead to stereotyping (at one time
demographic analysis was the primary tool used to assess audience, now know- useful but
cannot solely rely upon)
- If audience feels they are being stereotyped, will likely be negative towards

-Allows predicting what events a particular cohort has experienced
-ie. Growing up in late 1920s experienced great depression- likely more savers
and are frugal attitude
-Allows predicting basic concerns
ie. College students interested in spring-break vacation spots, group of
professionals probably not

-Beloit college published mindset list listed complied to help professors relate to
students, explain how may view world differently

Sex and Gender

-Sex- biologically assigned at conception (physiological and anatomical characteristics)
-ie. Only men can get prostate cancer, only women get pregnant, adapt to make
relevant to audience

-Gender- more psychological and emotional, identify that is socially constructed

throughout an individuals lifespan
-ie. Be aware just because sex is one, attitude may be another (ie. female seeks
more independent lifestyle that typically projected as role of male by society)

Geographic location
-Based on where born or raised, individuals often can be characterized by certain traits,
however, dont stereotype!
-ie. People on gulf coast probably concerned about hurricane safety, but
not safe to assume will vote conservative

Group affiliation
-May indicate interests or particular positions on a topic
ie. Veterans organization of those who have served during wartime, probably safe
to assume not support burning American flags, supportive of military, and unlikely
to support antiwar sentiment

Socioeconomic factors
-Factors like occupation, income, education will influence how audience responds
-ie. Occupation- likely to play large role in identity, teacher concerned about how
managed care will effect insurance premiums and level of care, doctors
concerned with how will affect their practice

-ie Income- tax presentation on 35k a year vs 200k a year audience, one probably
interested in tax shelters, the other not

-ie. Education- presenting a presentation on saving for childrens college to

parents with no college vs those with advanced degree, might need to explain
things like cost of textbooks not covered in tuition where 2nd group would know
-Again, dont stereotype!
-ie. Older women SDI on the rise speculated due to lack of education targeted at age
group since stereotyped as not engaging in sexual activity or understanding rule of safe

Psychological Audience Analysis

-Psychological factors: why audience members are there, how they think about your topic, how
motivated they are about your material are all important psychological factors

-Ask: what attitudes do the audience member hold in respect to my topic, how favorable or
unfavorable is their reaction to my position, what is their motivation for attending my

Audience attitudes
-Important to assess what attitudes audience might hold about topic

-Values- ideals that we hope to achieve and underlie specific attitudes, more global and
abstract than attitudes
-ie. Values such as equality wisdom, democracy, justice can shape attitudes about
affirmative action, assisted suicide, gay marriage

-Must understand underlying attitudes to affect behavior of audience members

-Research shows most comfortable when behaviors and attitudes are consistent
-ie. Attitude: daily exercise is good, action: exercise daily feel good,
Attitude: daily exercise is good, action: dont exercise daily dont feel
good & motivated to change behavior in practical usage might
emphasize audiences belief exercise is good but show that they dont
exercise frequently to increase rec usage at school

Favorable Audience
-Easiest to face, why even address favorable audience?
-Increase commitment
-Reaffirm their commitment, keep them motivated, and/or
increase commitment (ie. campaign rallies)

-Protect against counter persuasion, remind strengths of
own position and show weaknesses of other position (also
seen in political campaigns, My opponent will tell youbut
let me tell you.)
-Inoculation theory- advantages to refuting
opposing viewpoints, those exposed to arguments
against counterpoints were less susceptible to
changing minds when hear counterpoints

-Increased involvement
-Maybe agree but not very involved in issues, persuade to
actively engage in issues (ie. make calls, hand out flyers)

Hostile Audiences
-Hostile audiences- unfavorable to you or your position

-Research shows perform better when perceive audience is nonsupportive

-Strategies to deal with hostile audience:

-1. Stress commonalities to increase identification
-ie. dont want community center b/c might increase taxes, stress
will be beneficial to children (likely both agree on)

-2. Take small steps and set modest goals

-3. Acknowledge difference explicitly, shows respect and understanding of

audiences position

-Tip- try to disarm (ex. Im not an expert and could learn from my
audience now dont appear as arrogant)

Neutral Audience
-Neutral audience- has yet to form an opinion

-Important to determine why neutral about topic

-apathetic make more relevant to them

-not informedinform and draw conclusion for audience

Audience Motivation
-Motivation depends on involvement- personal relevance a topic hold for an audience

-Motivated audiences- interested in material, actively listens, considers argument,

analyzes supporting material, examines credibility
-Must be even more attentive to the quality and strength of argument than with
passive audience
-Passive audience- less interested and likely to think about and examine argument
-rely on cue for making decisions (vs exerting a lot of mental energy to
elaboration on each idea)
-ie. Audience more likely to focus on supporting points that are easier to
process (like a narrative vs statistical evidence)

-Key factor in determining motivation of audience it determining why in audience

-Captive audience- forced to be watch presentation (ie. student in class)
-tougher to reach, must convince have something that will benefit them
- be explicit and tell how will benefit

-Voluntary audience- interested in material or interested in you as speaker

-already have attention, but still must use good evidence and sound

Audience Knowledge
-Dont tell what already know, dont overwhelm with term/idea dont understand

-If unfamiliar explain terms, use analogies and directional transitions, assume bright
and intelligent, check for understanding and modify in necessary

-If familiar more knowledgeable audience can process more complex ideas related to
topic, audience will depend more on quality of argument (less on length, number of
sources, how much like you) to make judgment

Adapting to Different Audiences

-Reinforce their current position
-Inoculate the audience against counter persuasion
-Build involvement
-For uniformed audience, focus on education them on the issue
-For apathetic audience, focus on establishing relevance
-Find common ground that you share with audience members
-Set extremely moistest goals
-Provide very strong evidence
- Be thorough in your treatment of the material
-Emphasize you credibility
-Refine delivery and involve audience
-Dont waste audiences time with rudimentary information
-Be sophisticated in your approach to the material
-Dont patronize audience members, assume they are intelligent
-Focus on one or two key areas audience members need to know to begin
to understand your position

Audience Mood
-Consider: Was there a recent tragedy in area? Big layoff at major employer? Good
economic news? Etc.

-Mood can impact presentation ie. research in health communication: bad mood-more
likely to want to hear about prevention, good mood- more likely to want to hear how to
detect something is wrong

-Positive moods pay more attention to whether info is relevant to them

Audience Learning Style

-Learning styles: preference for processing new information

-Probably wont know which audience will lean towards, so choose presentation that
appeals to broad range of learning styles (dont be tempted just to suite your own
learning style)

-4 delineated styles
-Sensing- concrete, practical facts, procedures
-Intuitive- abstract, theoretical, creative
-Visual- picture, graphs, diagrams, etc. like films
*most people are visual learners
-Verbal- can prefer narrative, written or verbal message
-Active- hands on, discussion-oriented, group work
-Reflective- pensive, prefer to work alone
-Sequential- linear, logical, small steps
-Global- big picture, learn in big chunks

Environmental audience analysis

-Analyze environment surrounding audience

Physical Setting-
-Where, seating comfortable, lecture hall or informal room? Etc.
- ie. Outside?- cant use PPT probably
- ie. Weather?- cold might make less likely to listen
- ie. Large room?- need people in back to be able to hear
- ie. Uncomfortable?- might want to shorten presentation, make accommodations

-What are audience members expecting and how can those feeling be incorporated into
-ie. Organizational restructuring can make nervous b/c employees might lose job

Time of day
-ie. Hungry- want to leave, not likely to listen make presentation quick to point

-ie. Right after meal- might be sleepy, not likely to listen make active, engaging

Order of speakers
-First, between, last?

- Fresh audience usually give advantage

-Speak at end, more likely audience will be fatigue and less likely to listen
-Try to reinvigorate, be animated, use narrative

-Middle speaker can use previous speakers info to advantage, relate your presentation
to those prior

Time and length of presentation

-Exceed time limit communicate think message more important than others, if only
speaker shows lack of respect to audiences other commitments, demonstrate

-Under time audience will feel cheated, even for a well presented presentation
audience may not think about it b/c failed to meet their expectations

- Understand what technology is available

-Always have backup plan encase of technical difficulties

- If technology doesnt enhance message, dont use!

Audience Adaptation before the Presentation

Direct Methods of Audience Analysis

-Direct methods: directly asking your audience about who they are and what
characteristics they possess

-Interviews- one on one with audience members

-Prepare and use both open ended questions (allow freedom to answer any way
choose) and closed ended questions (limit responses to specific range of answers,
ie. Yes/No)

-Focus groups- group interview facilitated by one leader (usually from 3 to 12 ppl)
-Collect more information in less time

-Surveys/questionnaires-collect large amounts of data in short time

-ie. polls, can use tools like email, Facebook

-Direct methods most effective for gathering info about audience but can take a lot of
time and money often arent practical unless stakes are high (ie. corporate takeover,
political presentation)

Indirect Method of Audience Analysis

-Indirection methods- gathering information from any source other than your audience

-Ask contact who invited you to speak

-Interview other speakers who have addressed the group

-Examine organizational web sites, social media (ie. Facebook, Twitter), pamphlets, and
other materials

Audience Adaptation during the Presentation

-Stay tuned to audience and dont be overly engrossed in own presentation fail to react to

-Some adaptation strategies: check for comprehension and explain in needed, cut short, reduce
statistics, add narratives, pick up pace, engage audience by calling on someone taking a hand poll

-Make sure keeping good eye contact and using varied delivery style