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AUDIENCE ANALYSIS: How to Deliver a Talk Your Audience Will Love

Preparation Series: #2 Analyze Your Audience


These are the EXACT same steps I used to position myself as an expert and profit from speaking in less than 6 months.

by Pam Terry in Blog, Mastering Public Speaking
April 9, 2018 2 comments
Audience Analysis

Preparation Part II
Audience Analysis

This article is part two in a three part series on preparation. Part one covered the Speaker Request Intake Form and included questions you would ask and research about the host, the event, the talk, the audience and the venue. While questions about the audience are part of the intake, audience analysis requires its own separate focus and article. When you learn about your audience, your confidence will build.

It’s important to understand that confident speakers are not arrogant; they are like magnets, attracting their audience with their charm, wit, authenticity, and confidence. And, preparation is key for building confidence. You see, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will become. And, audience analysis will help you be prepared in many ways!

As a result of properly researching your audience, you will understand their needs. Consequently, this information will guide you in preparing a talk where your anecdotes, stories, and info will relate specifically to your audience. They will love it and you!

Avoid this Mistake

The mistake that many speakers make is not knowing anything about their audience. Most noteworthy is that every talk is about the audience; it’s certainly not about the speaker!! Furthermore, talks, great and small, are about what the audience will do with the information. Ask yourself: Will your audience be inspired, motivated, or take a certain action? Whatever they do with the information you impart, you need to understand them to effectively deliver your message.

A case in point: When one of my coaching clients was asked to speak to a group of high schoolers about college, I asked if these seniors were interested in college. Because she replied that she didn’t know, I asked her to ask the organizer. Consequently, she found out that the students were at risk of dropping out. As a result, they scrapped the presentation and set up counseling with each of the students. Because they understood the students’ needs, they were able to develop a program that would be more effective. It was so easy to learn about the students which changed everything.


It’s just as easy for YOU to find out about your audience. All you need to do is ask the organizer and do your homework. As you gather your info, make notes for your presentation. Then, use examples that fit your audience analysis (culture references, analogies, quotes).

Here are the 3 basic steps:

Step #1
Ask the event organizer about the attendees
– see below for what to ask (and ask for the list of registrants and a list of who attended – they may or may not give it to you but you won’t know unless you ask).

Step #2
After you talk with the organizer, research the host.
Review their website and social media profiles. Learn about them too.

Step #3
Then research their current and past events and the individual audience members. Review their websites and social media profiles as well.


These are the 3 areas that you must research about your audience – ask the organizer, use your own knowledge, and your research:

#1 – Why this audience?
Why this audience? Why are they attending? Do they have a common interest? Is their attendance mandatory? What is their expectation from your talk?

#2 – Audience Familiarity
How well do you know them? How well do they know you? How familiar or unfamiliar are they with your topic? Are they more knowledgeable about your topic than you? What are their beliefs, values, and emotions towards my topic? Is their interest in my topic high, moderate, low and why? Does the audience understand my role? What are the key similarities and/or difference with me? What concepts, processes or tools are they familiar with? What motivates this group?

#3 – Description & Demographics
What is their primary language and age range? Are they women or men or both (indicate percentage of each)? What is their education level, religious orientation, economic background, racial/ethnic/cultural description (if mixed, indicate percentages), job titles, personality types,  and other background information? Are they peers/superiors/subordinates? What have they been through recently? What is the anticipated energy level of the audience? What will they be doing before and after my talk?

As a result of your research, you may find that you are not be able to answer all of these questions. However, if you at least attempt to answer all of them, you will gather enough information to know what to avoid and what to include in your talk. Consequently, you can create a talk your audience can relate to and will most likely love!

Pam Terry
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  1. Ann Marie Ackermann says:

    This is nice advice! I live in Europe, and given the new data protection regulations here, I doubt a speaker would have much of a chance to get information about those signed up for an event ahead of time. Perhaps it is best to work this issue far in advance and ask the host to have the registrants give their permission to share their names with the speaker.

    1. Pam Terry says:

      Hi Ann! thank you! You just never know if you don’t ask so why not ask, right? I agree that analyzing your audience as best you can in advance is a “best practice.” Your points are spot on.

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These are the EXACT same steps I used to position myself as an expert and profit from speaking in less than 6 months.