Using Your Audience Analysis

Learning Objectives

Explain how to integrate the audience analysis in shaping your speech.

So you have completed your audience analysis. You have learned so much about who you are addressing. Now what? Any data collected is not effective unless it is used in some manner.

You can start working on your speech now. Knowing the audience will help you adjust your topic. While any audience analysis will not be perfect as each person is very different, you can deduce some generalizations that can assist your speech construction. Based on what you know, you can gauge which aspect of the topic will be most interesting to the group. You can focus on aspects to which the group can connect as well as leave out parts of the topic that they may already know or will not encourage engagement with the content.


When tackling your research, you will have a clear sense of what will resonate with the group. You may know what types of data they consider important. There may be research that holds particular significance to the group or famous people whom they admire.

  • For example: Angelo is presenting an online webinar about prison education programs. Since he collected some information when people signed up for the webinar, he knows where each participant comes from. There are groups of participants from five states: California, Arizona, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Oregon. As he puts together the statistics for his presentation, he focuses on these states so that participants can relate these statistics to their own work at the state level. He also discusses the prison education programs already in place in these states so that the participants have an immediate point of connection.


members of a book club sit around a tableYour speech can be organized in a way that will resonate with the audience. For some groups, an indirect approach is best, for others a direct style is valued. You will know better what choice to make regarding the organizational pattern.

  • For example: As part of a library program called “Books without Borders,” Gina is leading a book discussion group in a small town in Western Idaho. To start the discussion, Gina will offer a brief, ten-minute introduction to the first book in the series, Behold the Dreamers, by Imobolo Mbue. Since this audience might feel a long way from a Cameroonian immigrant family in New York City, Gina uses her introduction to sketch out the many ways that the book speaks to shared experiences in the United States, especially the vision and promise of the American Dream. Framed in this way, the discussion that follows is lively, insightful, and warmly received.


Overhead photograph of children sorting pokemon cardsExample choices should be what the audience may know or may be of significance. Knowing your audience gives you specific items to look for in an example. The more your examples can speak to the experience and interests of your audience, the more likely these examples will be to resonate with them and get your point across.

  • For example: María Teresa is a teacher. She knows that her class of second graders has recently become interested in Pokémon cards. To teach the idea of testing a hypothesis, she presents them with a hypothesis: “the bigger a Pokémon is, the more Combat Points it has.” She then puts them in groups and gives each group a stack of Pokémon cards. The groups begin sorting, tabulating, and graphing data on the size and power of Pokémon. The lesson is a hit, and the students learn a lot about formulating and testing hypotheses.


Language is one of the key areas that audience analysis bolsters. Each group has a different way of communicating. Therefore, knowing who the group is will give you ideas on how to structure your language when addressing the group.

  • For example: Senzo is trying to get buy-in at his company for a donation-match program to increase employee’s charitable giving. He shifts his language and argument slightly, depending on which group of employees he’s talking to. With the engineers, he focuses on the tangible benefits of the program and discusses multiplier effects. With the accountants, he goes through the financial details of the proposal. And with colleagues in sales and marketing, he talks more abstractly about the ways a program like this can bolster the company’s image in the community. The donation-match program becomes a big success.


Finally, it is always a good idea to come up with a title once you have most of the content in place. Audience analysis allows you to create a title specifically for the group. The title should be something that excites them and makes them want to attend. A word of warning, though: if your title promises to address a topic, you need to make sure you actually discuss that topic. If an economist gives a highly technical speech the title “How to Get Rich Really Really Quick!”, some audience members might show up expecting a different talk than the one they get. A better title might be “How to Get Rich in One 64 Millionth of a Second: High Frequency Trading and Price Discovery in International Markets.”

To Watch: Dr. Talia Gershon explains Quantum computing

In this video, Dr. Talia Gershon explains quantum computers to five different audiences: a child, a teenager, a college computer science major, a graduate student, and an expert. Unless you’re interested in trying to wrap your head around quantum computing, it’s enough for our purposes to look at the first and last conversations: with the child and the expert. What do these conversations tell us about changing one’s presentation based on prior experience with and knowledge of the topic?

You can view the transcript for “Quantum Computing Expert Explains One Concept in 5 Levels of Difficulty | WIRED” here (opens in new window).

What to watch for:

When talking with the child, Gershon uses a simple illustration to show how a quantum computer has different capabilities than a classical computer. With the expert, the conversation shifts much more to the practical side of working with quantum computers: “let’s talk about some of the things we think need to happen between now and fully fault-tolerant quantum computers,” Gershon says. You might think that the conversation would get more and more abstract as the level of expertise rises, but actually the opposite happens: the experts talk about the challenges, insights, and frustrations of working with concrete problems in the field, rather than just exchanging big ideas.

Note as well that with the non-experts, Gershon uses the Socratic method—using questions to draw the ideas out of the listener—whereas with the experts, we see a more standard interview style: answering the questions of the graduate student and conversing as knowledge-equals with the expert.

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