Posts Taged public-speaking

Audience Analysis: What to Do During a Presentation for Effective Communication

Audience Analysis

A few weeks back, we wrote about effective audience analysis and the role it plays in effective communication. More specifically, we went into detail about the first phase: before you are speaking in front of an audience. In this post, we’ll delve a little deeper into what to do during the second phase – once your presentation has begun.

A couple of simple steps will allow you to adapt to your audience on the fly, helping ensure that your message will be communicated effectively.

1. Establish your credibility. The philosopher Aristotle wrote about three different methods of persuasion – ethos, pathos and logos. The first – ethos – is an appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter. It is how well the presenter convinces the audience that he or she is qualified to speak on the particular subject.

Credibility – considered by some to be your most important asset in business communications  – can make or break a presentation. There are several ways you can increase your credibility in front of an audience that might be unfamiliar with you or your expertise. Among them, Mary Munter wrote in her communications textbook, “Guide to Managerial Communication,” are the strategic use of:

  • Common ground: Establishing shared values or beliefs
  • Expertise: Associating yourself with or citing authoritative sources
  • Goodwill: Emphasizing audience benefits – “what’s in it for them”
  • Image: Using nonverbal and language your audience considers dynamic
  • Rank: Associating yourself with or citing a high-ranking person


2. Read your audience. Take regular assessments throughout your communication of how your audience is reacting to your message.

In “Working the Room: How to Move People to Action Through Audience-Centered Speaking,” author Nick Morgan lays out some cues applicable to western audiences (nonverbal cues are often specific to a particular culture):

Turning away, averted eyes, crossed arms Adversity Smiling, open gestures, palms open, eye contact
Squirming, minimal eye contact, shoulders slumped Disengagement Change your pace, involve audience or take a break
Shaking head, sighing, huffing, eye rolling Opposition Engage audience
Leaning forward in chairs, moving closer Commitment Confirm commitment and move on to the next topic

What other tools and tactics do you use to adapt to your audience during a speech?

Audience Analysis: Get the Right Message to the Right People


Not long ago, A.wordsmith manager Lisa Lavora-De Beule published a useful post outlining 5 steps to enhance your public speaking. Every effective speech, however, shares a common beginning, one that happens long before the speaker gets to the podium: audience analysis.

Understanding one’s audience is one of the most important elements of effective communication. It gives you the insight you need to settle on an appropriate tone, style, language and content. Effective audience analysis ensures that the intended message gets across to the right people and that you meet the needs of your audience.

There are three phases in audience analysis: before, during and after the speech. In this blog post, we’ll go into detail about what to do during the first phase – before you even begin speaking to your audience.

1. Determine your goal.

In order to effectively reach your audience, you must first have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish with your communication. Are you trying to brainstorm, consult, sell or tell? Your presentation style will necessarily vary depending on your intention.

2. Identify presentation logistics.

Arming yourself with as much knowledge about the setup of the venue allows you to identify a Plan B if something goes wrong. To prepare, ask yourself the following questions: How big is my audience? ​Where will I be presenting, and how will the room be set up? Are there other presenters, and if so, in what order will you speak?  ​Will there be time for questions? Are there any norms for presenting to this group?

3. Understand the audience’s expectations and likely attitude about your presentation.

Do your homework​. Who is your primary audience? Will you be presenting at a formal or an informal meeting, and are there any expectations about the level of interaction of your presentation? What is the audience’s level of interest in your topic, and are there any strong emotional triggers? Is the audience likely to be agreeable, apathetic or critical?

4. Make sure you are addressing the audience’s knowledge level.

Understand the audience’s familiarity with the topic​. Is there jargon you need to be careful to avoid? Does the audience have common or conflicting interests? With a divided audience, you will need to address both sides of the topic.

Investing time in audience analysis before you begin mapping out your presentation can help ensure that your message comes across clearly. With the exception of the physical logistics of the room, each of these steps are just as important when it comes to written communications as well.

How do you set yourself up for success? What do you do before an important presentation to ensure that your communication is tailored to your audience?


5 Tips to Enhance Your Public Speaking

Public speaking

Becoming an effective public speaker takes time and practice, yet is a great way to market yourself as an expert in your field while enhancing awareness of your business. No matter the size of your audience, below are a few simple pointers to keep in mind in public speaking.

1. Dress for Success

Dress in something that allows you to move around with ease and avoid wearing clothing or accessories that will distract your audience from what you are saying.

2. Get the audience’s attention from the start

WeSpeak Worldwide speakers, Robyn Hatcher suggests that speakers can involve their audience by using one of these five methods:

  • Ask a question or series of questions. i.e., “How many of you . . .?”
  • State something startling. i.e., “Do you realize . . . ?”
  • Use a powerful quote.
  • Tell a story.
  • Use an analogy or an example.


3. Use simple language and speak with confidence

As this feature points out, written language is different than spoken. Some ideas work well when written, but don’t work at all when you actually say the words. Remember to use simple language, speak clearly and thoughtfully. Allow for pauses so that the audience has time to reflect on what you’ve said.

4. Calm your jitters

It’s natural to feel nervous before public speaking in front of an audience. Gina Barnett, who coaches many TED speakers, suggests taking a few deep breaths, shaking your hands out or doing some isometric exercises to help release your nervous energy.

5. Be yourself

The more you act like yourself the more the audience will relate to what you are saying, care and listen.

How To Be A Successful Public Speaker

Have you ever wondered why TED talks draw millions of views online? Is it because they are more compelling or pertinent to a large audience? Or is it because the speaker is popular or famous? These questions can be answered by research from Science of People, who have collected data and insight into why some talks are more popular than others.

The average person will encounter a handful of staff meetings, conferences, presentations, lectures and/or talks in their lifetime. Some will even have to give some – leading those to ask, what makes a successful public speaker? In any environment, whether in a classroom or professional setting, one must learn how to effectively and successfully speak and present to others. Below are some helpful tips on how to do so.

Public Speaker Takeaway Tips

  1. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Everyone has sat through their fair share of lectures or staff conferences about the same dull topic and leaves the
    The body and Public Speaking

    The body and Public Speaking

    audience tired and yawning. How you present your content is crucial – the success of your discussion is linked to what you physically do rather than what you say. Shocking? Even though we want people to focus on our words, most effective communication is in the form of nonverbal signs and cues. If you stand in the same spot and point at a screen the entire time, your audience doesn’t recognize involvement in the topic, which leads into the next tip.

  2. The more you move your body, the better. Gestures are a nonverbal way to show and build trust. Studies have found that when we see a person’s hands, we have an easier time trusting them. This is true for the rest of your body. If you move away from the podium or table you are standing at, your audience can see your entire body and therefore can see all of you moving.
  3. Vocal variety is important. Anyone who has completed a Toastmaster certification will learn the importance of vocal variety in their training. No one wants to listen to a monotone speaker who memorized the entire talk– so raise your voice, tell a story, laugh, shout and do what you need to do to show that you are a human and have more than one level to your voice. It increases how memorable your talk will be and gets your audience engaged in your topic.
  4. Make first impressions count. Researchers have noted that audience members form opinions about a talk in the first seven seconds. Researcher, Nalini Ambady calls this ‘thin-slicing.’ She says that for efficiency purposes, the brain makes very quick judgments of people within the first few seconds of meeting them. This usually happens before any words are exchanged. This means you must take the time to think about how you enter the room, how you address the audience and how you deliver your first line. My advice? Make a grand entrance.


Whether you are a student, employee, CEO or average Joe, chances are you will have to get up in front of a group of people and speak at some point in your life. Why not make that talk memorable for your audience? If you’re engaged and successful, you may even inspire others.