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Alberta, Canada
Family Law Lawyer, Professional Speaker & Author

Friday, 23 March 2012

Introduction: Know Your Audience: Part I

Motivate. Educate. Advocate.
CAPTIVATE Public Speaking Consultant Services

If a tree falls in the forest, there's a good chance that nobody (of the human variety) will hear. The tree falling may be a striking and significant event, but without an audience, the gravity of the event will go unnoticed.

Whether your context is the boardroom, the courtroom,  the political forum, the classroom or another venue, it is critical that you develop and refine the skills required to hold an audience's attention throughout your presentation.

This blog will contain key information on how to captivate your audience during public and professional speaking events. As a seasoned trial attorney, former college instructor and professional advocate/ educator/ speaker in Canada, the United States and internationally, I will be sharing my expertise with you as a public speaking consultant in this blog on how to ensure that the reception of your message is optimised for any audience and any forum.

I would like to leave you with one simple point to consider, namely, your audience.  How well do you know your audience before you give a presentation?  Sometimes, as in the courtroom, you will not necessarily know the identity of the particular judge that will be presiding.  Nonetheless, you will have general knowledge of the type of audience that you will be advocating before (a judge or justice) and can make certain assumptions based upon general truths about this type of audience. 

In the classroom, you may or may not be teaching the same group of students each time.  The same is true for presentations in the boardroom.  Either way, you will use your prior knowledge of the audiences in previous presentations to develop the next presentation.

In other contexts, you may be presenting to an audience with an unknown composition.  Yoo will usually have a certain amount of information available about how many people will be attending the event and how they came to be there (voluntary, mandatory, etc.).  You may also have a good idea about why the people are attending your presentation and thus can deduce some ideas about the audience's interests.

When delivering to a completely unknown audience, such as at a public forum, you may believe that you will not have the benefits of being able to make an audience assessment.  This is not true.  While you may not know the number of people that will attend, you will probably be able to have a good idea about why people will be attending your presentation.

Spend some time before each presentation reflecting upon your audience.  Who are they? What do you know about them?  Why are they coming?  What are they probably hoping to get out of your presentation?  If appropriate, based upon previous presentations to the same audience, what do you know about their expectations and reactions?

When you start your presentation preparation by considering your audience, you are in a better position to tailor your delivery for maximum effectiveness.  Each audience is unique and dynamic.  If you want to captivate your audience, you must be aware of their needs and respond to them.

Please send me your own questions ( )  and I'll respond to them in future posts.

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