Analyzing Your Audience

No matter how great your content, it won’t get heard unless you are tweaking your speaking to address your audience’s unspoken question, “What’s in it for me?” Oftentimes we spend a great deal of time developing our topic, key points, great openings and conclusions, and we don’t consider or spend much time evaluating who is in the audience and what they came to hear. Analyzing your audience goes beyond considering just demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, etc… Knowing your audience involves understanding their values and beliefs.

About a year ago, a marketing manager who worked for a well-known sports beverage company came to me for help with his public speaking skills. He regularly spoke to groups to sell his products, and he felt he could use coaching to gain an edge over his competitors. He knew his purpose and he knew his product line. I asked him to analyze his audience – who were they?

He thought about this question and came back to me with four different audiences: high school athletes, college athletes, athletic directors, and parents of the high school athletes. His answers led him to new insights with his presentations.

We analyzed each group. What did each group value? What motivated each group in their decision-making process? My client had not thought about his audiences in this way before. This exercise gave him new information he used to tweak his content. He found that the high school athletes highly valued sports celebrities; they were influenced by top athletes in their sport and would purchase what the celebrity athletes endorsed. The college athletes most highly valued performance and wanted whatever gave them a competitive advantage. The athletic directors valued performance, and they were also motivated by rewards and money. For instance, one AD had a keen interest in how many more coolers he could get if he purchased xx amount of the sports beverage. Lastly, he analyzed the parents of the high school athletes and recognized they were mainly interested in their child’s performance and their safety. Did the sports beverage contain harmful chemicals? How did this beverage help prevent dehydration?

By understanding what each of his target audiences most valued, my client was able to address their concerns. He tapped into these values and motivations in his presentations, and answered the unspoken question that all audiences ask, “What’s in it for me?” He became a more effective and successful speaker as a result.

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Sonja Stetzler, MA, RD is a communications and public speaking coach who works with business and healthcare professionals to improve their presentation skills so that they can grow their business or advance in their careers. For FREE tips on improving your presence on the platform, visit

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