Without a doubt, your audience is your most important commodity, your most valuable asset, in public speaking. Without an audience, you have no presentation or speech; therefore, it is crucial that you, as the speaker, value your audience in both the creation and presentation of your material.
What this means is that you need to know to whom you will be speaking before you even put pen to paper. When you are invited to speak, you must question your host about your audience. What are they expecting from you? What do they want to hear about? You must then take that question one step further. Can you satisfy that audience with your topic? If not, it would be best to step aside.
In my own situation, I will find out whether the group inviting me to speak is looking for information on presentation skills, improving the sound of the speaking voice, diaphragmatic breathing, vocal abuse, or projection. While all of my topics may touch upon each other in some fashion, were I to speak to athletic coaches, for example, I would specifically target projection of the voice, which is the ability to increase one’s volume without shouting. Because I would be speaking about the voice, I would also discuss vocal abuse which is common among those who need to talk in a loud volume or for great lengths of time. Discussing presentation skills, in this particular case, would be a waste of time. They have vocal issues which need to be addressed. Talking to them about presentation skills or public speaking will not solve their problems.
When you are creating your presentation, keep your audience in mind at all times. If you know that you will be speaking to an older group of people, speak their language. Talking to a group of senior citizens in a retirement community about the best internet provider will not be valuable to this particular audience – talking to them about searching the internet will.
Were you to speak to a women’s business group, on the other hand, the subject of internet providers would be much more suitable than how to search the internet. Women in business are already searching the internet; whereas, that former group of senior citizens may not be computer savvy in the least.
Know your audience in advance; create your material with that audience in mind; and, finally, value that audience. Public speaking is not about you – it is about what you can offer them, those who have chosen to go out of their way to attend your presentation.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.