Speech: Audience

Speech: Audience

Understanding Your Audience

  • Identifying and understanding your audience is a crucial first step in planning a speech.
  • The content, style, tone, and language of your speech will depend largely on who your listeners are.

Age, Interest, and Knowledge

  • Consider the age of your audience. Younger audiences may respond better to simple language and engaging anecdotes, while older audiences could appreciate complex arguments and subtlety.
  • Gauge your audience’s interest in your topic. If they are already invested or familiar, you can delve deeper. If not, you may need to provide more background information or make your topic relatable.
  • Account for the audience’s knowledge level on the topic. Avoid jargon and complicated terms for novice listeners. For an expert audience, show a solid understanding and don’t oversimplify.

Purpose and Expectations

  • Understand why your audience is listening to the speech. Are they looking for information, entertainment, or persuasion?
  • Be sure to meet or exceed your audience’s expectations of your speech. Keep it relevant, engaging, and respectful.

Consider Emotions and Sensitivities

  • Be aware of any emotional sensitivities or heavily divisive issues among your audience. Tactfully handle these, or avoid them if irrelevant to your topic.
  • Think about the emotional response you want to inspire in your audience. This will guide the tone and structure of your speech.

Engaging the Audience

  • Engage your audience using rhetoric, humour, and anecdotes. Tailor these to their age, knowledge, and interest level.
  • A successful speech is interactive. Consider using questions, pauses for effect, and eye contact to involve your listeners.

Tailoring Content

  • Be selective about your content. Not everything you know about a topic needs to be included. Focus on what is relevant and interesting to your audience.
  • Sequence your content logically. This helps your audience follow your argument easily.


  • Your conclusion should provide a sense of closure. Summarise your key points or provide a call to action depending on your speech’s purpose.
  • Leave your audience with something to think about, such as a powerful statement, a question, or a provocative idea. This can ignite further interest in your topic.

General Tips

  • Don’t assume your audience knows less or more than you. Create a balance between educating and entertaining them.
  • Practice empathy and respect for your audience. Their time and attention are valuable, so do your best to make their listening experience worthwhile.
  • The better you know your audience, the more effectively you can tailor your speech to engage and influence them.

Overall, understanding your audience shapes the content, delivery, language and style of your speech, and is the key to its success.