Audience Analysis Worksheet


My superstar student Reva shared an amazing resource with the class during her Mini-Discussion this week: the Audience Analysis Worksheet.  Feel free to use the worksheet authored by Lenny Laskowski for your next presentation!

Analysis – Who are they? How many will be there?

Understanding – What is their knowledge of the subject?

Demographics – What is their age, sex, educational background? (I think we can definitely add more questions regarding demographic information here).

Interest – Why are they there? Who asked them to be there?

Environment – Where will I stand? Can they all see & hear me?

Needs – What are their needs? What are your needs as the speaker?

Customized – What specific needs do you need to address?

Expectations – What do they expect to learn or hear from you?


Do you conduct audience analysis before your presentations?  How do you complete this important prep activity?

Links of the Week: 2013.09


This week, I’ve been reading some interesting articles to prepare for two new, short class lessons on audience analysis and storytelling.  This articles helped me to teach my class about these concepts, so I hope they help you, too!

First, Ethos3 wrote “3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Presentation,” and the article gives some advice on how to be a more audience-centered presenter.  If a selfish presenter focuses only on himself and his message without concentrating on his audience, he is on the fast track to delivering a boring presentation.  My students examined qualities of boring presentations here.  Ethos3 helps us to move away from the selfish, boring approach with these three tips.  They explain that as audience-centered presenters, we must be transparent and honest so that our audience knows we are human beings.  We must focus less on lecturing and droning on and on about what we know; instead, we should convey what we understand (Source).  Lastly, we must help people connect with us after the presentation.  If you’ve presented well and if audiences want to know more, be sure to give them a place to connect with you (email, social media, blog, etc.)  Read Ethos3’s amazing article on how to be a more audience-centered presenter here.


Second, I am using Garr Reynolds’ research for his upcoming book on story to my advantage!  His blog posts have all been related to story, so I’ve used these to help craft my storytelling for presentations lesson for my class.  His latest post asks, “Should we be suspicious of stories?”  Since I love to question everything, the idea Reynolds explores based upon Cowen’s Talk is amazing.  However, as Garr Reynolds writes in his review, “Rather than offering a convincing critique on storytelling per se, Cowen seems to be offering a critique on the reliance we place on anecdotal evidence today. And this kind of ‘story’ is indeed something of which we should be very suspicious” (Source).  Just as we should question everything, we should question the stories we hear.  However, one thing we shouldn’t question is the importance of story to convey a message in a way that resonates with people.

This month, I’m having an expert storyteller, creative writer and photographer Ashley Inguanta, visit my class.  Learn more about Ashley’s work here.  I can’t wait to learn more from her!

Finally, “80% of Presentations Fail” helps us see the connection between my research focus this week: audience analysis and storytelling.  Janice Tomich of Calculated Presentations explains that presentations fail when presenters don’t know their audience and when they don’t tell stories.  You can see why I’m so interested in amping up my lessons to my students on this issue!  Tomich also says presentations fail when we create ineffective slides and when we lack authenticity in our delivery.  Read her entire amazing article here.

What great articles have you been reading this week?

Audience Analysis


This weekend, Chiara Ojeda and I finished rebooting our online Professional Communication and Presentation class.  I built a new deck of Audience Analysis slides for a 10-minute video lesson, and I plan to expand these significantly for my on-campus class.  These are only five slides out of my 15-slide deck.

Please take a look and let me know what you think about the new slides!

audienceanalysis1 audienceanalysis2 audienceanalysis3 audienceanalysis4 audienceanalysis5What would you include in a lesson on audience analysis?

Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address


In class today, we examined Ronald Reagan’s Challenger Address after the space shuttle explosion.  First, watch the speech below:


Nancy Duarte dissects Reagan’s audience analysis and how he effectively segments the audience into several categories: mourners across the country; families of the space shuttle crew members; children watching the shuttle launch at school; the Soviet Union; and NASA.  Duarte’s February 2011 article analyzes the speech in great detail with a focus on audience analysis.  Click here to read “Why President Reagan Deserves The Title ‘The Great Communicator.'”

I also stumbled across a teaching packet from the University of Texas if you are planning on sharing this presentation with your students.  The teaching resources include an amazing speech-writing guide with some helpful tips: 1) use attention-getting devices such as storytelling, 2) communicate clearly using understandable language and a clear structure, 3) include accurate information, 4) provide specific examples to support your ideas, and 5) end on an exciting note such as a call to action (Source).  I enjoyed the speech-writing and speech analysis sections in the packet which can be very helpful in developing some powerful lessons.

How do you explain “audience analysis” to your students?  Can you think of any other speeches which do a masterful job of audience segmentation?

Links of the Week: 2013.03


The links of the week this week will help you toward a greater understanding of audience analysis.  If your goal is to develop a strong presentation that will engage and resonate with your audience, these three articles are for you…


First, Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes posted his first article of 2013: “How to Conduct Audience Analysis.”  This is the second article in his three-part audience analysis series, and it gives nine strategies to conduct audience analysis.  While you’ll want to read all three articles in the series, this “how to” will be your favorite because of its practicality.

Presentation Dynamics shared “Putting the Audience in your ‘I’ Sight.”  We’re all guilty of overusing the “I” in presentations, but this article gives the “I” perspective.  Howser writes, “There is something about standing in front of an audience that seems to sharpen our ‘I’ sight. It seems that all we can see that’s worth talking about is ‘I did this’, ‘I know that’ and ‘I think the other thing.’  It’s no surprise.  We’re often taught that we should write and speak about what we know best, and there’s nothing we know better than ourselves. But there’s also no faster way to lose an audience” (Source).  With an in-depth look at how to reframe your ethos in a presentation, you can resonate with your audience in a more powerful way.  Howser’s article is a must-read to help us combat the “I” sight!

Last, but not least, my good friend and colleague Chiara Ojeda posted “Audience Analysis: Segmenting The Audience.”  Tweak Your Slides is a must-follow blog!  “Segmenting The Audience” explains why audience analysis is important and how to incorporate your audience into the preparation stage of your next presentation.  My favorite part of her article is her application through the example of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation after the elementary school shooting.  When we see how a professional presenter segments his or her audience, we can learn how to cultivate those skills in our own speeches.

What great articles on audience analysis have you read lately?

Links of the Week: Week of Nov 12-18


This week, I enjoyed so many great reads that I had to force myself to narrow them down to just three.

The first comes from Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes.  Audience analysis is a difficult topic to teach others, and it’s even more difficult to study and apply when building a speech.  That I’ve seen, Nancy Duarte has done the best job of explaining audience analysis and the needs of the audience in Resonate, but I really enjoyed Dlugan’s perspective.  In “Audience Analysis: A Guide for Speakers,” Dlugan breaks down demographic, psychological, and contextual analysis.  So often, we think we’ve successfully analyzed our audience… My students, especially, think they’ve done their job as far as audience analysis goes if they know their audience’s age, gender, and race.  As Dlugan’s article points out, if done properly, audience analysis is so much more than that.

Image Credit

My second favorite article this week was written by Angela DeFinis.  She is one of my favorite public speaking and presentation experts to follow on Twitter because she ONLY Tweets about effective communication practices.  Follow her here.

“How To Assess Your Public Speaking Comfort Level” is such a great tool for analyzing your presentation anxiety.  Knowing where you stand on the “nervous” scale and learning how to cope with those feelings is so essential on the quest to be a strong presenter.  DeFinis defines four specific categories or “levels” of comfort when presenting and asks us to see which category we relate to most.

Learn more from Chiara Ojeda’s amazing Slideshare presentation “Conquer Presentation Anxiety” here.

My third and final favorite read this week is “3 Essential TED Talks for the Presenter” by Ethos3.  In light of TED’s BILLIONTH view, these three Talks celebrate ideas worth spreading.  Ethos3 divides their 3 favorites in accordance with the presentation stool: content by Jill Bolte Taylor; design by Al Gore; and delivery by Beeban Kidron.  That got me thinking about the 3 TED Talks I’d recommend for each “leg” of the presentation stool, so look out for my upcoming post!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ethos3.

If you’re TED-obsessed like me, Tweet your favorite TED Talk using the hashtag #TEDBillion.

Delivery Lesson Ten: Changing The Play


Today during class, we dissected Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech with the help of Clarence Jones’ NPR interview.  In the interview, Jones, one of Dr. King’s speechwriters, explains that during King’s “Dream” speech, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouts out for MLK to “tell them about the dream, Martin!”  The course of the speech completely changes, and Dr. King pushes back his pre-written speech notes and gives the “I Have a Dream” portion of the speech extemporaneously from the top of his head.

What happens when you see that your audience isn’t connecting to your presentation?  Would you be prepared enough to completely change the direction of your speech?  Our tenth delivery lesson reminds us of the importance of being able to change the play.

Garr Reynolds wrote, “Calling an audible: The art of changing the play.”  Reynolds reminds us, “Good presenters are like good quarterbacks: they are good at reading the situation live and making adjustments on the spot” (Source).  But how can we make sure we can do this in a live, nerve-wracking presentation environment?  And how can we best “read” our audience to determine if we need to make last-minute play changes?

The three tools to help you with changing the play include preparation, audience analysis, and pre-presentation mingling.

Preparation means knowing your speech content so well that you can focus on more important things when you are presenting: your delivery and your connection with your audience.  Nancy Duarte suggests that a great presentation requires 36-90 hours of prep time.  How long does it take you to feel truly prepared to give a speech?  For me, it’s closer to 90 than 36 hours…

Preparation is an essential first step, but so is audience analysis.  Some people (including some public speaking instructors I’ve worked with) believe that audience analysis is “easy” or “obvious.”  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Even seasoned presenters should take the time to analyze their audience.

Nancy Duarte created an exceptional tool for audience analysis: The Audience Needs Map.  I believe this is an essential part of preparation that should be completed before you begin working on content.  After all, how do you know what type of message to create if you haven’t taken the time to find out what your audience needs from that message?


Audience analysis is key on the day of the presentation, too.  Before you speak, pre-presentation mingling (PPM) is important.  Get a feel for your audience members’ personalities, needs, and wants.  This allows you to determine their chronemics and see if you need to make any last-minute adjustments to speech content.  If the crowd is filled with no-nonsense, super serious folk, your humor may fall flat with them.  If the crowd is wired and buzzing, you may have to work to calm them down to focus on your message.

For example, on the first day of every new class, I greet each student with a warm smile, a “good morning,” and a handshake along with name introductions.  This is essential PPM before the first day of a public speaking class because students are nervous.  Trust me: no one goes into a public speaking class feeling confident and excited!  PPM goes a long way to help ease the audience’s tension and make them feel a little better about the scary public speaking journey they’re about to take with me.

Preparation, audience analysis, and PPM blend together to help you change the play when your audience needs it most.  Garr Reynolds compares the presenter to a quarterback and explains, “The QB uses ‘the facts’ before him to make adjustments, but sometimes the decision to ‘call an audible’ is based on a ‘gut feel’ for the situation. Some of the greatest plays ever have resulted from the QB calling an audible and changing the play” (Source).  Consider MLK’s power play: he changed the entire course of his “Dream” speech based upon one audience member’s shouted request.  Imagine what the “Dream” speech would have been like without King’s quick decision to speak from the heart.  As presenters, we must learn how to read our audience more effectively so we can best connect with them in every single speech we deliver.

Have you ever “changed the play” in the middle of a presentation?  How did you know your original speech content wasn’t going to work?  What did you decide to do instead?

The Importance of Audience Analysis + Nonverbal Communication


We discussed the importance of nonverbal communication in a presentation two weeks ago in “First Impressions: Nonverbal Communication Tips.”  What happens when your commonly used American hand gesture offends your multicultural audience?  Audience analysis and nonverbal communication are hugely important, and the folks at Daily Infographic explain why in “Hand Jive,” below.

Image Credit: Daily Infographic

Connect With Your Audience


Two weeks ago, Slideshare’s SlidesThatRock posted a fantastic presentation called “Connect With Your Audience.” I wholly support not only the outstanding content, but also the simple, elegant visuals.


Slidesthatrock’s slideshow hits upon a few points Nancy Duarte makes in her book resonate: Present Stories That Transform Audiences.  If this presentation interests you, you’ll definitely want to pick up your copy of Duarte’s latest text here.  (Note: Duarte Designs does not pay me for my constant endorsements.  I simply believe slide:ology and resonate are two must-haves if you give speeches or presentations.)