Have you been told this before? What does it mean? How are you supposed to get to know your audience when you are speaking at a new venue? An article in The American Society of Engineers says the following:
“To connect with your audience, you need to understand why your topic is important to them. What do they expect to learn from the presentation? Don’t assume the audience is like you. They may have cultural or geographic biases and the more you understand them, the better you can express yourself to them and avoid speaking gaffes. It is also important to know the level of knowledge they have about your topic, so you can present the information with the correct tone to keep people interested and engaged.
Whether you are presenting to a small group of 20 or a large group of 200, there are many things you can to do in advance to ensure that your presentation achieves the desired response. The most important is to know and understand your audience as well as the venue logistics.”
There are several things you can do to prepare and research your audience before and at the beginning of the talk that will help you adjust your speech to better engage the audience. The first thing is to Research. Call the person who booked you and ask questions about the audience. What do they hope to gain, who are some of the main people you should get to know.
Then Greet them at the door – get there early and say hello to everyone who walks through the door. If you have a little bit of time, ask them some questions about why they came, what they hope to learn.
You can also check out Toastmasters (as recommended in the article) by going to www.toastmasters.org and clicking on “find a club” to find a club near you. You can also find many good articles on public speaking at that link.
The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your speech to their wants and needs.
To your speaking success