When you are teaching a speech class, there are a few points you must bring up for discussion if you want your students to have a thorough understanding of what to expect when giving a speech. You want your group to understand the nuances of the audience, because audience reaction is one of the greatest determinants of whether a speech was successful.
Attention Span of Audiences
An important topic to talk about in a speech class is the attention span of an audience. Talk about the listening patterns of an average audience, how long you have to grab and hold your group's attention, and how even a minor distraction (such as a loud bird chirping outside) can steal away the audience's attention temporarily or permanently. Discuss solutions for how you can avoid losing the audience and how to get the focus back on your words if the participants are distracted.
What Makes People Laugh
When you get a laugh out of your audience you (1) know that they are listening in and (2) give them a positive feeling about what you have to say. They will likely be more willing to receive your message if you put them in a good mood. So discuss a list of topics that tend to make people chuckle, such as relatable stories about family, dogs and cats, and weird occurrences, with your class. Talk about how you can incorporate these elements into your speech to hold your audience's interest.
Men and Women
One great topic to discuss is whether there is a significant difference between speaking to a room full of women as opposed to a group of men. According to professional speaker Tom Antion, there most certainly is a difference. Women are more likely to laugh and have less reservations during the speech. Men tend to be more aloof and unfriendly during a speech—many seek validation from their peers before displaying a reaction to your words. A female speaker will sometimes have to work harder to gain approval from an all-male audience, while a male speaker will likely have an easier time of it with an all-female audience. This makes for interesting discussion.
Discuss these differing responses with your class. Your students will need to be prepared for cases where they will have to speak in front of an all-male or all-female audience.