Public speaking. It puts fear in the hearts of many, but if mastered, it can be an invaluable skill and can launch wildly successful political careers. And as any public speaker can tell you, the first thing to do, before putting pen to paper, is to know your audience. Here are some helpful tips from “School for Champions.”
Your purpose in speaking to a group is to inform, persuade, or entertain the audience. Your motivation is to get satisfaction from expressing your ideas and getting recognition or applause from the audience. In order to achieve your purpose, as well as to get the expression and applause you desire, you must satisfy the audience with something in which they are interested. Thus, it is important to know what your audience is interested in, what their expectations are and even what mood they are in.
Makes sense. And I’ll bet it’s really helpful to know your audience when you’re speaking all over the country in different places, and to different people all the time. It’s a chance to make them feel special, and like you really care about them, and have bothered to learn a little something about their needs, and interests. But, how do you know what your audience will be like? How do you learn about them?
You can find out about the audience through research before you speak, through interaction at the beginning of your talk, and by making adjustments during the speech.
Before you speak–and even before you prepare your speech–you should know what sort of audience you will have. What is the nature of the group? What do they expect to hear from you? Do they have any special interests or prejudices about which you should be aware?
Yes…research. I bet it’s really handy when out on the campaign trail to have a crackerjack research team, so you know who you’re speaking to, and what sort of “special interests or prejudices” they might have. Unless, maybe they took the day off, or maybe you think you know about sports geography on the East Coast.
Yes, that’s Sarah Palin today in Erie, thinkin’ all Pennsylvanians must just love those Phillies. Errrr…. Big mistake. But, if we’re feeling generous, we could remember that Alaska has no major league baseball teams, so maybe she just couldn’t believe that a tiny little state like Pennsylvania would have MORE than one, and that Pirates fans might not share the love.
But sometimes, no matter how many excuses you make for someone, the fact that they just aren’t thinking is hard to hide. For instance, take Palin’s recent visit to a solar technology startup company in the battleground state of Ohio.
Palin spoke after touring Xunlight Corp., one of a handful of solar technology startup companies in Toledo, a struggling industrial city in this swing state. The city’s leaders are hoping that the solar companies will create jobs to replace some of those lost by downsizing in the auto industry.
But Palin made only a passing reference to solar power in her speech and instead renewed her call for more drilling in U.S. coastal waters. She repeated her signature anthem, “drill, baby, drill,” which seemed to fall a bit flat on the audience at the plant even as it’s become a popular chant at her rallies.
I think I actually would have paid money to be present in the audience at a solar technology company, and hear Sarah Palin start chanting, “Drill Baby Drill!”
Isn’t that right Toledo?!? How ’bout them Phillies!?! YEAH!!!