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Public Speaking and Audience Analysis Essay

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Purpose of the Speech

According to Baccarani and Bonfanti, the purpose of public speaking often proceeds and determines how the orator will prepare and even make the presentation (375). Analysis of who is saying what (speaker himself or herself), to who (the audience), through what media (the channel), and with what effect (impact or intended result) guides how speakers prepare to meet the purpose. Various purposes precede the making of public speech.

To begin with, the speaker may be directly invited by an organization, which may be a business conglomerate, a school, community, a political party, or a religious institution to make a public speech on a given topic (Scott 50). In such instances, the organizers and the inviting parties determine the purpose of public speaking. For example, colleges that require a skilled speaker to make a public speech to students to motivate them to work hard in their studies have often invited me.

Such a speech is usually structured to begin with a powerful anecdote that pulls the attention of the audience into the topic and its impact on their lives. The body is also structured with facts, jokes, and relevant examples that the audience can easily identify with followed by a powerful conclusion that calls the audience into action (LeFebvre et al. 261). For instance, students can be encouraged to study extra hours, to purchase academic materials, to attend lectures, or to avoid distracters such as uncalled for entertainment, sexual perversion, laziness, and general indiscipline.

However, other purposes of public speeches exist. For example, a speaker may be contracted by speakers’ bureau to make business and commercial event speeches. In such cases, the speaker is paid a commission of between 25% -30% (Baccarani and Bonfanti 378). The purpose of public speaking is dictated by the organization that awards the contract. For example, an insurance institution may require a speaker to make a speech to influence the target audience to take insurance cover that ranges from life to property. Therefore, the public speaker prepares for such a speech through researching on the area and devising persuasive techniques that move the audience into action.

The other instance is where a public speaker personally purposes to make a public speech in a particular forum (Mowbray and Perry 207). I have also participated in this public speaking out of my interest to influence the society. This speech may be targeted at influencing a particular group to think and/or act in a particular manner.

The Use of audience analysis, including how to perform such analysis in various venues, and how the information affects the speakers’ preparation and methods

According to Brundage and Hancock, audience analysis involves a deliberate effort by the speaker to seek understanding of his or her audience before speech delivery (139). For effective public speaking, the speaker must have prior knowledge of the audiences who are the end users of his or her speech. In my public speaking endeavors, audience analysis has helped me to gain important insights about my addressees before making speeches.

Through audience analysis, a speaker can choose and develop a topic that is relevant and important to a specific spectator. It has also helped me to come up with a delivery approach that is tailored to the specific needs of my audience, for instance, choosing an appropriate tone, language, content, and style of delivery. Carrison asserts that poor or lack of audience analysis by a public speaker before appearing and making a speech most likely may result in double frustration from both the speaker and the audience (6). Although no one in the audience remains the same after one speech, various areas are important for the public speaker to consider when carrying out audience analysis.

The three most important areas can be classified as demographic, disposition, and knowledge of the audiences who are expected at a certain venue and time (Baccarani and Bonfanti 381). These three broad classifications of audience analysis capture most of the expected audience characteristics. Audience analysis can be carried out in the following ways:

Audience demographic analysis

Whenever I prepare for public speaking, I begin by seeking to understand the demographic characteristics of the audience I expect at a certain venue and time. In terms of demographic analysis, the first question that the speakers need to ask themselves is whether the expected audience will be homogeneous or heterogeneous. The composition of differences and similarities of the audience become an important factor in leveling the topic, the content, and delivery (Brundage and Hancock 140). Homogeneous audiences, for instance, university students studying law, have many common characteristics.

They may have similar levels of education, interests, focus on legal details, age, and aspirations. On the other hand, a heterogeneous audience such as a political rally may have varying characteristics. For instance, some people may be Muslims, Christians, or Hindus. Some may be men, women, or children. Some may be Caucasians, Africans, or Indians. In terms of education, some may be educated while others are illiterate or mentally challenged. In each case, topic selection, content preparation, and delivery style vary. The speaker must address the needs of each person in the group if he or she aims at motivating, educating, counseling, or entertaining the group (LeFebvre et al. 264).

Whenever I prepare a public speech for a homogeneous or heterogeneous audience, my underlying factor is to find out what the addressees may be having in common, as opposed to focusing on their differences. For instance, if I am to address a parents meeting to high school students, I sum up my demographic analysis by checking on the common interest of every parent in the school. For example, such parents may be of different ages, race, color, religion, political affiliations, sex, gender, and economic status.

However, all of them have certain common interest. For instance, they all want to bring up disciplined children, they want their children to perform well academically, they want their children to be morally upright, and that they desire to see their children’s school being the best in all ratings. Such common characteristics of the audience guide my deliverables to a heterogeneous audience.

The second factor in the analysis of demographic characteristics of the audience is their age variation. Understanding of audience age variation and the average age is important in public speaking. Age influences interest and preferences of the audience (Engelhard and Kearns 2). Appreciation of audience ages usually assists me in preparation and framing of the topic, choice of language, verbal and non-verbal cues, jokes, and content, all of which vary with a disparity in age.

For instance, while addressing church elders on importance of personal discipline, the speaker uses a language that they can identify with, for instance, proper English, the use of proverbs, the use of old jokes, word choice that appreciates their contribution to the nation so far, and language that gives them hope and security to press on. On the other hand, when addressing the same topic of personal discipline to a group of adolescent audience, the speaker uses language that appeals to them, for example, slang, clichés, and popular language.

The speaker can select current jokes that are popular on social media, relevant examples that the audience may have watched over the internet, videos, or television, for instance, celebrities. He or she can use wisdom words that encourage the listeners to explore the world but with caution. He or she can address the importance of self-determination. These strategies are meant to meet the particular needs of the audience at that age, failure to which the speech is labeled boring, irrelevant, and lacking in details.

The other demographic factor to consider is the socio-economic status of the audience. The social and economic status of the audiences affects their attitude to the speaker, the topic of discussion, and their interests. For instance, I have made public speeches in high-level high schools and low-economic level high schools. In the high-level high schools, the majority of the learners come from well-to-do families. Topics of interest to such audiences may widely vary from those who come from middle-income families and those in slums. For instance, learners in high-class schools feel that they belong to a superior social class due to the economic status of their parents.

Therefore, they may be interested in professions that give people a high status such as engineering, law, aviation, medicine, and politics. To them, their parents can finance them to take any career with minimum entry grades. While giving examples to such audience, I usually quote what they can identify with, for instance, the latest cars in town, first-class flights, the latest fashion clothes, expensive universities, and posh lifestyle. On the other hand, learners from low socio-economic background may not identify themselves with expensive and lavish lifestyles and hence the relevance of understanding the socio-economic status of the audiences.

The other demographic characteristic to consider is religious affiliations. Religion is like opium because it influences the way people think and act. Appreciation of the audience’s religious composition is important since the speaker can develop a relevant topic, content, and examples that seem to uphold all people. According to Prud’homme and Hensley, balance is important in a mixed religion audience (20). For instance, one can abstain from quoting any religious books because of the audience diversity.

The other demographic factor includes ethnicity, race, and culture of the audience. Liao upholds the fact that race, culture, and ethnicity of the audiences influence their perceptions, interest, and beliefs, which may obstruct their interpretation of a speech (47). Mowbray and Perry assert that a variation in race, culture, and ethnicity informs the speaker to balance and/or avoid stereotypes and popular beliefs that may hurt a particular group (208). In the same vein, the speaker’s role and relationship with the audience should also be considered. Understanding of the knowledge level of the audience is crucial for the speaker to plan the best speech-delivery strategies.

Audience Disposition Analysis

When carrying out audience analysis, I try to figure out the expectations of the audience from my speech. Different audiences have different expectations. The audience may expect that a speech will inform them, educate them, entertain, counsel, restore their confidence, or offer a solution to a problem in their lives. Understanding the expectations at the preparation stage eases speech delivery while grabbing the attention of the audience (Mowbray and Perry 208).

Secondly, I seek to understand the attitude of the audience towards me and the topic I will deliver. The audience may or may not have prior information. In such cases, the speaker has to organize his or her topic and content to suit, influence, or alter the attitude of the audience. Understanding the attitude of the audiences helps the speaker in preparing how to win them over or change them, for instance, when delivering a political speech in a region that is opposed to the speaker’s political affiliation. Thirdly, the concerns of the readers and their problems are important in audience analysis. All public speeches should have a planned objective.

The objective must be inclined in meeting the needs, interests, and solving audiences’ problems. People pay attention when a speech addresses their problem and/or offer hope for better lives (Prud’homme and Hensley 22). For instance, when a speaker makes revolutionary speeches that aim at moving people from an oppressive government regime, problems becomes the hot points. Fourth, understanding the motivation point of the audience is crucial. To move the audience, speakers use what they desire and/or what energizes them to move them into action, for example, promises of better lifestyles, finances, health, or freedom.

Audience Knowledge Analysis

Before making a public speech, I also seek to understand the knowledge level of my audience. For instance, I question my audience knowledge concerning the topic. If the audience is knowledgeable about it, I seek to bring up a content, which they may not know or clearly understand to make it remain relevant. The application of new and the already existing information by the audience is important (Prud’homme and Hensley 22).

The appreciation of knowledge levels also enables me to gauge my language and sophistication levels during speech delivery. For instance, when speaking to nurses about the importance of antenatal care, I can use medical jargon since they are exposed to it. On the other hand, while speaking to expectant mothers in a slum about the same topic, I use low-level language, including mother tongue, in explanations to make them understand. Finally, in my analysis, I seek to predict the questions the audience may have concerning the topic. Prediction of the questions aids content preparation and emphasis during delivery. It also helps me in readiness to answer perceived questions properly.

Methods of Collecting and Organizing Materials Effectively

It is important for public speakers to have adequate resources for both preparation and delivery of speeches (Carrison 6). Such materials may include information, public address system, props, teaching aids, laptops, projectors, lighting systems, and technicians. Public speaking materials can be collected from various places and ways. While collecting such materials, the speaker makes the appointment with lenders or directly purchases them.

If the materials are available in the venue, the speaker cross-examines them long before speech delivery to avoid last-minute frustration. An alternative such as lighting system or public address system is set on standby just in case of failure of the main resources. The speakers may also visit various websites and libraries to research on the presentation topic to arm themselves with enough content such that they can be confident when delivering the speech.

The materials should also be organized in a manner that all the audiences will be reached efficiently. For instance, the props should be clearly visible from far. The projectors should be well elevated. Screens should be well positioned. Besides, microphones and podiums should be positioned in a way that the speaker does not strain when speaking.

Effective Speech Structure, the use of an Attention-Getting Opener, a Well-Organized Easy-To-Follow Speech Body, and a well thought-out Conclusion

The structure of speech determines the flow of thoughts in the minds of the audience. The speech should have captivating opening markers, which capture the attention of the audience. For example, I use captivating jokes together with hilarious personal and topic introductions to call to attention the audiences’ mind. In other instances, I begin the speech with an interesting but relevant story that appeals to the audience. The relevance of the speech also comes early to prepare the audiences and to assure them that the speech will fulfill their needs, solve their problems, and/or raise their spirits, thereby opening up the audience expectations (Liao 47).

The body of the speech should be well organized. It should come immediately after the attention-getting opening (Durlik, Brown, and Tsakiris 530). At this point, the expectations of the audiences are high. Any word that sways from what they want to hear may drive them to be inattentive. In my speeches, I realized that the audience would make decisions on whether or not to pay attention to the whole speech using the first few words that the speaker makes. Points should be organized in a flowing manner, beginning with the introduction, definitions, and clarification of the direction the speech will take. This plan marks a strong beginning.

The body of the speech should be supported with relevant examples that the audience can easily identify with (Carrison 6). The use of stories and jokes should also be included in the body to break the monotony by making the audience laugh. Words that appeal to both mind and spirit while touching the five senses of the audience should increase with the progress of the speech to the main body. The speaker should move the feelings of the audience towards a certain action earlier planned.

Engelhard and Kearns recommend that the conclusion of a powerful speech should be as relevant as the opening line (3). The speaker should move with the audience through to the conclusion. At the conclusion, the height of the audience’s feelings should be evident. The conclusion is the highest peak in a speech. The speaker should easily move the audience to take a calculated action at will.

When I carry out public speeches, it is at this point that I ascertain the conviction of the audience, for example, by evaluating their nonverbal cues, verbal responses, or even a show of hands. At the conclusion, I give the audience an opportunity to ask questions while I address them. At the end of the speech, I make the audience publicly or individually make declarations on the actions they will undertake.

Importance of Clear Articulation, Good Projection, Variety, and Animation while presenting the Speech

One of the most crucial factors in public speaking is audibility of the speaker. Clarity of voice, words, and ideas affect the decoding process in the mind of the audience. If the audiences cannot make out what the speaker is saying or decipher the words that the speaker is projecting, they withdraw and lose interest. Therefore, it is important to guarantee proper articulation of words, pronunciation, stress, and vocalization during the speech.

Exposure and practice improve the articulation ability of the speaker. Carrison reveals how poise and confidence also affect the projection ability of the audience (6). Variation of tone during public speaking captures the attention of the audience. In my public speaking endeavor, I realized that it is important to know when to raise my voice to the peak, when to sound stern, irritated, appreciative, commanding, and when to speak in very low but audible tone. Tonal variation moves the audience. It informs them about the importance of the words being projected nonverbally. The animation is another technique that the speaker should employ when making speeches (Engelhard and Kearns 4).

While making speeches, I realized that the manifestation of energy, liveliness, and vibrancy determines the success of the speech a great deal. Scott affirms that lack of energy in a speech depicts the lack of confidence and passion in a speaker (52). Animation enables the speaker to command attention and/or move the audience to a particular action. Strategies such as the use of body movement, acting, and simulation also amuse the audiences, thus breaking the monotony and capturing their attention.

Importance of Nonverbal Variables such as Eye Contact and Body Language

In my public speaking encounters, I also realized that nonverbal cues play a more important role that verbal communication. Nonverbal variables involve all other communication cues, rather than words. Various nonverbal cues affect the success of speech delivery. To begin with, eye contact (oculesics) is crucial during public speaking. According to Scott, eye contact shows that the speaker is confident and sure of the topic being delivered (52).

However, it is important for the speaker to appreciate that eye contact messages vary from one culture to another. For instance, in America, direct eye contact is interpreted as confidence while it is interpreted to mean arrogance in some Asian countries. However, the speaker should keep on fixing his or her eyes on the audience. It is also through eye contact that the speaker can read the audiences’ response. Body language that involves body movement, facial expression, and the use of artifacts also plays a major role in public speaking. Dressing, the use of color, and the choice of makeup also send nonverbal messages to the audience.

Cleanliness and proper dressing affect poise and confidence of the speaker. In fact, influential speakers dress in a particular attire and manner to identify with the audience. Variation of facial expression in speech delivery and the movement of various parts of the body, for instance, nodding, swinging of shoulders, and moving from one point to another while stressing a point appeal to the audience.

The space that the speaker maintains between her and the audience is another nonverbal cue that affects the impact of a speech. Tonal variation is also a nonverbal cue that communicates more than words. It indicates the level of confidence and understanding of the topic. As a public speaker, I ensure that my nonverbal cues are well organized and that they communicate the intended messages that are consistent with the verbal communication.

The Use of various kinds of Visuals such as Graphs, Charts, and Demonstrations

The use of communication aids is another important asset that public speakers have. Visual aids such as graphs and charts enhance message delivery by the speaker. Graphs that are clear and large enough enable the speaker to illustrate and undoubtedly break down complex information concerning movement of variables that would be difficult for the audience to interpret. Durlik, Brown, and Tsakiris affirm that charts also assist the speaker in demonstrating pictures and examples of various aspects captured in the speech (532). People understand and relate better with visual information compared to audio.

According to Scott, visual aids compliment verbal messages. However, graphs and charts should be clear and large enough (52). Enough lighting should also be provided to illuminate the diagrams, which should in turn be positioned high enough for the audience to see. The speaker should also guide the audience through the visual aids.

PowerPoint and overhead projectors are also aids that I use when making public speeches. Baccarani and Bonfanti, affirm that PowerPoint aids the projection of images and data in large and visible fonts (383). The speaker makes slides on the computer. The slides are then projected to be accessed by the larger audience. The use of videotapes for presentations also enhances the ability of the speaker to deliver messages on detailed concepts.

Video tapes are both visual and audio-visual. Hence, they can appeal to the audiences. Video images and sounds recorded before the date of the speech can be slotted in between the speech to clarify on particular issues, especially when making business presentations. These aids are easy to use. The speakers can operate them in due time as they deliver their speeches.

Analysis and Evaluation of the Students’ Speaking Experiences

As a student, I have been involved in various public speaking events. From these events, I have had different experiences. For instance, I have been involved in making public speeches in schools addressing parents. One of such events that involved about 500 parents of a high school within a cosmopolitan setting was very successful. In this case, the topic was determined by the school administration.

The topic was ‘role of parents in ensuring high academic performance of high school students’. After the topic was determined, I carried out audience analysis and tailored the content to meet the needs of the audience. The effectiveness of this speech was attributed to the fact that most of the parents sent positive feedback during speech delivery. For instance, they would nod, shake their heads, make applauses, and even make sounds of disgust as I explained and made examples of how poor parenting results in irresponsible children. I could read the feelings and sentiments of the audience in the course of the speech.

The parents also asked many questions at the end of the speech. I was able to answer them effectively. Since the parents made a solemn declaration that they would ensure responsible parenting through the provision of the discipline of their children, the parents immediately purchased revision books, cleared school balances, and began to have meaningful conversations with their sons and daughters. The principal also made a positive report about school fees payment and happy families.

The second instance was a public speech I made in a corporate setting. Although the organizing group gave me the discretion of choosing the topic to speak about during the annual conference, the event was less successful. Although I came up with a relevant topic that I researched thoroughly, the delivery of the speech was less successful. For instance, the event started late. I attributed this case to poor preparation and lack of technicians to assist in the preparation and operation of presentation aids. Moreover, sound amplification system failed. There was no standby system. As a result, the delivery of the speech to over 3000 officers became problematic.

Voice projection became almost impossible. However, these problems could be solved through prior preparation and planning. For instance, I would plan for the event earlier and test the apparatus before the event. Proper planning and acquisition of enough human resources should be carried out long before the public speaking event. As a speaker, I could first witness the technician operate the machines to be sure of his or her skills. A standby set of sound system and source of energy should be hired and made available incase of any failure. This planning makes the event successful.

Conclusion

The art of public speaking can be regarded as the act of an individual making a speech presentation to a target audience. From my experience, public speaking involves one person addressing a small or large group of people. The speech may take a face-to-face approach or video conferencing. Public speaking is usually deliberate and structured in a particular manner to meet the speaker’s objectives, which may include motivating, influencing, informing, entertaining, or counseling the audience.

Works Cited

Baccarani, Claudio, and Angelo Bonfanti. “Effective public speaking: a conceptual framework in the corporate-communication field.” Corporate Communications: An International Journal 20.3 (2015): 375-390. Print.

Brundage, Shelley, and Adrienne Hancock. “Real Enough: Using Virtual Public Speaking Environments to Evoke Feelings and Behaviors Targeted in Stuttering Assessment and Treatment.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 24.2 (2015): 139-149. Print.

Carrison, Dan. “Effective public speaking is all about control.” Industrial Management 57.2 (2015): 6-6. Print.

Durlik, Caroline, Gary Brown, and Manos Tsakiris. “Enhanced interoceptive awareness during anticipation of public speaking is associated with fear of negative evaluation.” Cognition & Emotion 28.3 (2014): 530-540. Print.

Engelhard, Iris, and Michelle Kearns. “Psychophysiological responsivity to script-driven imagery: an exploratory study of the effects of eye movements on public speaking flash forwards.” Frontiers in Psychiatry 1.1 (2015): 1-9. Print.

LeFebvre, Luke, Leah LeFebvre, Kate Blackburn, and Ryan Boyd. “Student Estimates of Public Speaking Competency: The Meaning Extraction Helper and Video Self-evaluation.” Communication Education 6.43 (2015): 261-279. Print.

Liao, Hsiang-Ann. “Examining the Role of Collaborative Learning in a Public Speaking Course.” College Teaching 62.2 (2014): 47-54. Print.

Mowbray, Robert, and Laura Perry. “Improving lecture quality through training in public speaking.” Innovations in Education & Teaching International 52.2 (2015): 207-217. Print.

Prud’homme, Patrice-Andre, and Brandon Hensley. “It Takes More than Public Speaking: A Leadership Analysis of The King’s Speech.” Journal of Organizational Learning & Leadership 11.1 (2013): 19-28. Print.

Scott, Nick. “8 Ways To Be A Better Public Speaker In 2015.” Director 68.4 (2015): 50-52. Print.

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