Examine the importance of audience analysis when preparing for oral presentation. Illustrate the role of the listener in oral communications.
“The more you know and understand about your audience and their needs, the better you can prepare your speech to assure that you meet their needs.” (Laskowski 1996) Audience analysis entails the assessment of the recipients of information to make sure that the information presented to them is adequately relevant. Audience analysis is a very important part of preparing a presentation. The recipients of the information play a crucial role in a presentation and the presenter should take note of that by undertaking sufficient audience analysis prior to the presentation. The information presented to the audience may be oral, written or visual; however, we will only consider the oral aspect. Audience analysis can be conducted with respect to the demographic structure of the audience, the audience’s disposition toward the presentation and how much knowledge the audience has about the topic at hand. The listener plays a key role in oral communication because the attempted communication is intended for the listener. With this in mind a considerable amount of time should be spent determining how best to communicate with the listener effectively.
When considering the demography of the audience one would take into account the age, ethnicity, gender, occupation, race etc. These factors will help the presenter become more sensitive to the audiences expectations and will also help the presenter determine how receptive the audience will be to his presentation. Such things as the difference in the social status of the presenter and that of the audience can hinder the effectiveness of the presentation if ignored. The audience can have certain disposition or preconception about certain topics or controversial subjects and the presenter would do well for him/her self to analyze these prior to the presentation. This analysis should steer the presenter clear of any insensitive remarks and should result in the presenter having a sense of empathy with the members of the audience. The expectations of the audience should also affect how presentable the presenter will be toward the audience. The presenter should also take into consideration how much knowledge the audience already has about the topic at hand. This will aid the presenter decide what he wants the audience to know and how he is going to deliver the information effectively. The presenter should pay attention not to get too complicated for his audience and not talk too much. The presenter should let the audience participate in the presentation if possible.
“The stage fright or speech anxiety felt by many speakers is due to not knowing enough about the speaking environment or the audience.” (Laskowski 1996) In order to get some of the above mentioned information about an audience the presenter could use surveys, opinion polls or questionnaires. These are all information gathering tools that will better prepare the presenter for an effective presentation. The choice of which tool will depend largely on the resources available to the presenter.
The listener also has a role to play if the presentation is to be a success. The listener plays the role of the recipient of information and his/her ability to receive and understand the information is of paramount importance to the success of the presentation. The presenter should take note of this. Kaplan (1988) suggests that only when two individuals partake in information sharing do they have a conversation. This suggests that the failure of the listener to participate in an oral discussion may mean that the listener is confused, not paying attention or not interested. The listener can oscillate between passive and active listening depending on the interest drawn from the presentation. The passive listener will participate much less than the active listener. The active participation of the listener also helps reassure the speaker that they are on the same page. At the end of a presentation the listener should understand enough of the topic discussed to be able to relate it to another individual.
This analysis can continue even throughout the presentation. The presenter can consider the different types of listening methods which apply to the audience in question. The effectiveness of each of the applicable listening methods in terms of the listener receiving and understanding the message should be considered. The presenter can determine how active the listeners are by their attentiveness, their desire to ask questions and add comments, for instance, the presenter can take note of facial expressions and fidgeting as a sign of attentiveness. Co efficiency