Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of public speaking – be it from nervousness or excitement – that we often do not have a clear idea about those to whom we will be addressing. In truth, you cannot even begin to create your presentation until you know about your audience. And, the best way to gain that information is to ask.

Someone is going to email you, phone you, or send you an actual letter with an invitation to speak to their group or at their conference. Your job is to then ask questions. Speak directly to the individual inviting you. If the person inviting you is calling you on behalf of someone else, ask the questions anyway. Make a list of the questions for which you need answers; refer to them throughout your conversation; and, if the individual inviting you does not know the answer, make sure he or she gets back to you.

If a company is hiring you to speak to their employees, find out the level of the employees. Will it be just the managers and/or the top level administrative staff or will it be a particular department within the company?

If you are speaking at a convention, find out who is invited to attend. Is it a real estate convention in which your audience will consist of realtors who have paid hundreds of dollars for a Vegas weekend or is it a flower show in which your audience will pay at the door to browse the displays?

Should you be invited to speak to a local club or organization which meets monthly, for example, ask the same questions. The more information you can gain about your audience, the better prepared you will be.

After you have gotten your answers, go to their website and do more research. Whether it is a convention, a business, or a local club, read all the literature you can about that organization or company especially press material. You may find something in your research that could be very advantageous to know before addressing that group.

Even if you are speaking to a local chapter of a club, search the internet for any press coverage they may have had recently. Businesses and clubs will be impressed if you are familiar with their firm or organization. Being on top of current events makes you more knowledgeable and thus increases your level of credibility.

No matter how much money you are being paid, or whether you are doing it for free, no matter where and when your presentation, no matter if it is 10 minutes in length or 40, no matter what your topic, no matter why you are speaking, the most important question you must answer is: to whom are you speaking?

Author's Bio: 

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. To get started improving your presentation skills, click Voice Training and Presentation Skills for Nancy's free ebook.