Demographic Audience Analysis for Public Speaking
An effective public speaker knows his audience and tailors the speech to engage that audience. In order to know what the audience wants to hear, a public speaker should take time to analyze the audience, which includes understandings its demographic background.
A demographic audience analysis finds commonalities--or perhaps differences--among an audience, which the speaker can use to modify her speech. For example, a speech for middle school students would offer a significantly different tone from a speech on the same topic for doctoral students. Understanding the audience's demographic ensures that both the tone and topic are appropriate.
A demographic audience analysis considers many factors. Speakers should know the audience's average age as well as age range. Find out if the audience is predominantly male or female, and avoid gender stereotyping no matter the results. Determine if there is a general educational background or ethnic background in your audience.
Speakers can acquire demographic data about their audience in a number of ways. If an organization asked them to speak, take time to talk to the person who offered the gig to learn about the audience. Speakers can also make demographic surveys, which they can distribute to the audience well in advance of their speech to learn about their commonalities and differences.
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.