A Note about Your Audience

Katie Gruber

Remaining audience-centered is key to an effective and influential speech.  If you do not consider your audience at every step of your preparation, you have failed to make it important to your audience and thus they have little reason to listen to you.

Consider this, too: speakers should adapt to their audience before they speak and during their speech.  Consider the feedback your audience gives you during your speech — are they falling asleep?  Are they excited?  On their phones?  Talking with neighbors?  Listening intently?  If your audience is asleep, you’ll certainly want to try a different approach!  If they are listening intently, keep going!


If you have ever seen the popular 1990’s sitcom Friends, then you may be familiar with the Courteney Cox character, Monica.  She is a Type A, always-cleaning, control freak, right?  Consider the following scene, when she and her husband Chandler, played by the late Matthew Perry, are trying to have a baby and he tries to get her “in the mood” and makes a mess:






Additionally, Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand play a son and mother taking a road trip across the country, trying to sell his cleaning product to retailers in the movie Guilt Trip (2012). He has failed repeatedly, and his well-meaning mother has repeatedly told him to adapt to his audience, making it important to them.  In this penultimate scene of the movie, he finally takes her advice and wins over the buyer:





Finally, in the 1990’s comedy Tommy Boy, starring the late Chris Farley, you will see the same try-and-fail sales pitch. Here is just one example of Tommy failing to adapt to his audience: Tommy Boy (1995) – Desktop Demo. However, Tommy isn’t a completely lost cause. In the following scene, he is successful: Tommy Boy (1995) – Salesman.




Until you make it important to your audience and relate it to their lives, you will not influence them!



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Principles of Public Speaking Copyright © 2022 by Katie Gruber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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