Beebe and Beebe (2007) assert that the audience should be incorporated in all aspects of public speaking right from the choice of topic, introduction, manner of speech and even the conclusion. Audiences are quite distinct from one another. It is therefore essential to consider all the unique qualities of one’s particular audience before addressing them. The essay will examine some of the theoretical and practical aspect of public speaking in relation to the latter qualities
A demographic and attitudinal analysis of a religious school of adolescents
Beebe and Beebe (2007) affirm that before one can stand before an audience to speak to them, they should have conducted a thorough background check on the members of their audience. This means that all the issues to be addressed in the speech must be customized or tailor-made for one’s audience. The latter authors believe that the audience should be the central determinants of the content, approach and presentation of the speech.
The first step towards performing an attitudinal and demographic analysis of one’s audience is to get as much information about the audience as possible. Sources may either be formal or informal. For instance, in the case of a school of adolescents, the speaker may use geographical information to form opinions about the composition of his audience. If the school is located in a culturally diverse City or town, then it is likely that the students will have similar characteristics. Additionally, the speaker can find out directly from the school administration about the nature of the students. He could also read brochures and leaflets made by the school. Besides these, he should also look for print media and books that may have mentioned the school he will be addressing. After gathering all the formal and informal pieces of information about the audience, it is the duty of the speaker to sieve out the important content and leave out the unimportant ones. This is because some pieces may be purely circumstantial. For instance, newspaper reports often record extra ordinary happenings and may not necessarily represent everyday occurrences at the school. After sieving out the trivial part of his audience’s information, a speaker should then adapt to such an audience. Sometimes a speaker may be particularly different from his audience (this is especially true given that the speaker will address a group of adolescents). Therefore, it is necessary to change one’s train of thought if it happens that the speaker belongs to another group.
A demographic audience analysis entails a wide number of issues. A public speaker must first consider the age of his audience. In this case, they are adolescents. Therefore, the speaker must refrain from using examples that do not lie within the adolescent’s life times. It is also imperative to add some humor because adolescents do not have a very high concentration span. Additionally, the speaker should find out what the gender component of his audience is. In relation to this, such a speaker must avoid assumptions and gender biased language at all times. A demographic analysis should also entail consideration of cultural, racial and ethnic components. Some cultures are holistic and it may be advisable to talk about issues in a collective way. On the other hand, some cultures value authoritative speakers while others may prefer a down to earth-low-profile speaker. (Beebe and Beebe, 2007)
An attitudinal analysis entails examination of the what the audience’s attitudes, values and beliefs. It is also important to consider the audience’s attitudes towards the topic of conversation. Adolescents may find academic topics dull and it is up to the speaker to liven it up or make it more interesting.
Sometimes, the audiences attitudes may be affected by prevailing situations. For instance, the speech may be given during parent’s day thus prompting the need for a different approach. Sometimes, it may necessary to consider the size of the school audience. The speaker may be addresed group of ten students or the entire school. The tone, presentation and content will differ in either circumstances.
Significance of introductory part of the speech
The five purposes of the introductory speech are as follows;
- To establish credibility of the speaker
- To capture the audience’s attention
- To give an introduction to the subject
- To justify why the audience should listen to the speech
- To summarize the subsequent ideas
The introductory part of the speech allows members of the audience a chance to understand why they have come to listen to a certain speaker. If the speaker’s introductory paragraph is clear, valid and relevant, then chances are that the audience will respect the speaker as a credible authority in his field. Speakers can achieve this objective by giving the audience some interesting facts about the topic at hand. (Beebe and Beebe, 2007)
An introduction gives the audience an idea of what to expect in the rest of the speech. It can be seen as a form of ‘first impression’. If the first impression is poor, then the speaker will have lost the chance to connect with his audience. Consequently, a good introduction allows the speaker to capture the attention of his listeners and may act as a platform for sustaining their attention throughout the speech. A speaker can achieve this by using famous quotations, giving humorous comments or referring to local events and situations.
It is also important to guide the audience through what one will be addressing in the rest of the speech. This means that the introduction should contain a summary of the main points to be addressed in the speech. It would be very hectic if an audience can find no link between the initial remarks in the speech with the rest of the utterances. Speakers who discuss new topics without highlighting them at the onset may make it difficult for their audience to follow what they are saying.
An audience is required to take up a passive role; this is particularly challenging for most individuals. Consequently, it is the duty of the speaker to ensure that he gives his audience a reason for listening to him. The most appropriate moment for doing this is at the beginning of the speech in the introduction.
Lastly, the introductory part of the speech also gives the speaker an opportunity to elaborate about his subject matter. This is the point where a speaker gives definitions and provides a rough idea of what the subject is all about. (Beebe and Beebe, 2007)
Ways of motivating listeners
Listeners can be motivated through our ways;
-Utilizing listener’s needs
Negative motivation can work for particular audiences while it may not work or others. For instance, when a speaker talks about the negative consequences of his chosen topic, it may attract the listener’s attention more than if he simply spoke in the affirmative. Such an approach is particularly effective when dealing with social issues. Revealing negative statistics about teenage pregnancies may be more efficient than just telling the audience to avoid it.
Positive motivation normally works in academic or career related speeches. For instance, if a professional is giving a career talk to a group of undergraduates, it may be wise to use positive motivation by reinforcing the good that comes out of choosing the speaker’s career path.
Public speakers can motivate their audience by including some of the needs faced by their listeners. Human beings always respond to familiar situations. Therefore, if a speaker seems to be touching on these needs, then chances are the audience will be endeared to the speaker. For instance, speakers can address some of the security needs facing the audience. It may also be appropriate to use physiological needs. Listeners always have an inherent idea of what they would like an ideal speaker to look like. It would greatly help the speaker if he tried fitting into that profile. Some members of the audience may also have underlying self esteem issues. Therefore, if a speaker seems to portray high self esteem when the audience is in need of it, then chances are that he will persuade the listeners. Speakers also need to utilize the social needs that their audience may be facing. They need to understand the fact that the audience may have family or health issues and these need to be taken into account. (Beebe and Beebe, 2007)
Lastly, a speaker may utilize dissonance. Here, the speaker will be creating some sort of conflict between his audience and himself. By doing this, the speech will not seem as attempt to win the audience over, instead it will challenge them mentally. This approach uses the concept of reverse psychologically to persuade listeners.
There are some theoretical concepts that govern speech making. If used appropriately, they can enhance the ability of a public speaker to reach to his audience. Beebe and Beebe (2007) assert that this can only be possible if the speaker focuses on the nature of the audience. Such an approach goes along way in ensuring effective communication.
Beebe, S. & Beebe, S. (2007): Public speaking; an audience centre approach; Allyn and Bacon Puclishers