Analyze Your Audience For Greater PR ResultsBy: Ana Ventura
A friend of mine was recently asked to speak to a group of kids for career day at a local high school. About a week before she was scheduled to go in, she asked if she could practice her presentation on me.
By the time she was finished talking about her daily life as a marine biologist, I was almost cringing. I guess from the look on my face, she could tell that something wasn't right with her speech.
"Your presentation is awesome," I told her. "For other marine biologists. I don't think that a large group of seventeen and eighteen year olds are really going to understand the jargon that you've used, and they might not necessarily agree with a lot of what you have to say."
The number one problem with Kate's presentation was that she didn't think about one very important factor: her audience. Researching the group of people you will be presenting to can really help when preparing any sort of message that you wish to convey.
Analyzing your audience works for public speaking if you want to look at it from a PR stand point, but this should also be applied to everyday business. Writing advertisements or even just speaking to a customer in a one on one situation can lead to disastrous results if they don't understand you. Chances are, your customer is not in the same industry you are, so don't use jargon relating to that field, or if need be, explain these terms in everyday language.
Demographics: This basically has to do with how the speaker relates to the audience. Age, sex, religion, education level, and socioeconomic status are important determinates of how the audience might react. Posing an idea that is against or unfamiliar to your audience might create conflict between the message you want to send and the one your audience actually hears.
Kate, for example, did not take into account that high school seniors definitely have a lower attention span than would a group of her older colleagues. Furthermore, kids that have not even graduated from high school could rarely understand the type of language Kate was using, and hardly anyone without a degree in marine biology, no matter how educated, could comprehend the amount of scientist jargon she spilled.
Psychographics: This relates more to internal values, such as ideology, beliefs, and attitudes. Let's say that Kate wanted to use an example in her talk about Darwin and the theory of evolution. If she found out later that she was speaking to a group with strict religious beliefs against the theory of evolution, she might find herself up against a very tough, if not hostile, audience.
Credibility: We've talked about this one before. Credibility is important because it communicates to the audience just how much competence and authority you have on the subject.
Kate's credibility would have been firmly established when she presented herself as a graduate in marine biology, and stated that she had done such and such research for how many years. It is key, however, to remain humble so as not seem pretentious.
It is always helpful to research public opinion about a certain topic, especially if that topic is controversial in anyway. A couple of great web sites to use are www.demographics.com as well as www.journals.uchicago.edu/POQ/home.html.
After Kate and I worked out what needed to be changed in her presentation, she focused more on a younger age group and made her speech more light hearted and funny. She turned out to be a great success at career day, with more questions and enthusiasm than any other speaker!
Remember, public speaking isn't the only place you should analyze your audience. Looking at your targeted group's demographics or phychographics in advertising, pitching a sale, or even just chatting will get you a long way in putting you and your customer on the same level.
© Copyright 2002, Ana Ventura.
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.