MPS Chap

MPS Chap. 5
Audience analysis and Adaptation
Rhetorical function: adjusting ideas to people and people to ideas (and more).
Public speaking is deeply audience-centered. Because it operates as (more or less) a
monologue, you must prepare beforehand by becoming as acquainted as much as you
possibly can with your intended audience and use this acquaintance to ‘tailor’ the
speech—to anticipate the audience’s interests.
The more you know about your audience’s knowledge & interests, the better you will be
able to identify your ‘ways’ with the audience’s ‘ways’—these identifications may unite
you with audiences as they may feel ‘more at home’ with you. However, you must do this
within the bounds of decorum—we’re not talking about simple flattery—we’re talking
about making adjustments and maintaining your integrity—or—taking a self-inventory
and finding legitimate and real intersections of identification (for example—talking to a
group of soldiers, you may mention a family member’s military experience—watch out
though—these kinds of gestures can sometimes appear to be forced and beside the point).
Bottom line: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!!
Analyze your audience before your speech
Discover what you can about the various divisions, sections, or
subgroups that constitute your listeners—audience segmentation
Audience targeting involves speaking only to one or more
segments of a larger audience
Factors to consider: (they all attach to interests)
Economic status
Group membership/identifications
Values—express judgments of what is desirable/undesirable
Beliefs—accept as true—usually stated as a declarative statement
Attitudes—expressions of approval/disapproval
Behaviors—observables you can infer some of the above from
Analyzing psychographics:
PEW Research Center:
Belongingness & love
VALS—Values and Lifestyles Typology
The most recent refinement in psychographic segmentation
Survivors: poor, ill-educated, low-skilled, without strong social
bonds, elderly, passive
Makers: practical people who have constructive skills, value selfsufficiency, and have enough income, skill and energy to carry out
their projects successfully
Strivers: seek motivation, self-definition, and approval from the
world around them
Believers: conservative, deeply moral, conventional people with
concrete beliefs based on traditional values
Experiencers: young, enthusiastic, impulsive, and rebellious
Achievers: successful career and work-oriented people who like to
feel in control of their lives
Thinkers: mature, well-educated, professional people with incomes
that provide them satisfaction and comfort
Innovators: successful, active people with high self-esteem and
abundant resources
For more information on VALS go to:
Analyze specific speaking situations
Types of audiences:
Reasons for attending speech:
Voluntary audience
Captive audience
Disposition of audience:
How audience is inclined to react to the speaker and her or his speech:
Size of audience:
Intimacy factors—relate to delivery—amplifiers, TV, etc.
Occasion of speech:
Why is this audience gathering?
What the reason for the speech?
History of the occasion?
Recent history of the group?
Physical Environment:
Manipulate the environment to your advantage whenever you can.
Try to find something out about it—even ‘try it out’ or set up a mockup
Key constraint—when, and for how long, and what’s before and after me (see
above) 6.00 a.m. versus 9.00 a.m.
Make your own surveys:
Analyze your audience during your speech
Watch those non-verbal cues—but don’t get too caught up in any one person’s
Assess: audience attention or interest
Assess: audience understanding
Assess: audience evaluation
Adjust and respond
Repeat a point
Increase volume
Use an analogy
Liven up that vocal variety
Make & hold eye contact
Analyze your audience after your speech
Do some post-speech analysis:
Did you accomplish what you hoped you would?
What do you sense were the strongest aspects of the speech?
What were the weakest?
How would you rate the content, organization, delivery, word choice of
the speech?
What can you do to improve these aspects of your speech?
Survey audience members
Reflect on your performance
Have the speech recorded & review it!
So—the best speeches are the ones that seem exactly right for the audience to whom
they are delivered
Such an accomplishment requires careful audience analysis before, during and after the
delivery of the speech.