Why Is Adapting To Your Audience Critical Thinking

Public Speaking midterm

What a person's field of experience encompasses
a field of experience involves how a person's culture, experiences, and heredity influence his or her ability to communicate with another. Our education, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, personality, beliefs, actions, attitudes, languages, social status, past experiences, and customs are all aspects of our field of experience.
-Ronald Arnett and Pat Arneson proposed that all communication, even public speaking can be viewed as a dialogue
3 principles of dialogic theory
1) dialogue is more natural than monologue
2) meaning are in people not words- everybody can take it in a different context
3) context and social situations impact perceived meaning-How we approach people, the words we choose, and how we deliver speeches are all dependent on different speaking contexts and social situations.
physical- The physical dimension of communication involves the real or touchable environment where communication occurs. For example, you may find yourself speaking in a classroom, a corporate board room, or a large amphitheater. Each of these real environments will influence your ability to interact with your audience.
temporal- According to Joseph DeVito, the temporal dimension "has to do not only with the time of day and moment in history but also with where a particular message fits into the sequence of communication events." The time of day can have a dramatic effect on how alert one's audience is. (School shooting example as well)
social-psychological- You have to know the types of people in your audience and how they react to a wide range of messages
cultural-When we interact with others from different cultures, misunderstandings can result from differing cultural beliefs, norms, and practices. As public speakers engaging in a dialogue with our audience members, we must attempt to understand the cultural makeup of our audience so that we can avoid these misunderstandings as much as possible.
Informative- share one's knowledge of a subject with an audience
Persuasive- In our everyday lives, we are often called on to convince, motivate, or otherwise persuade others to change their beliefs, take an action, or reconsider a decision.
Entertainment- an array of speaking occasions ranging from introductions to wedding toasts, to presenting and accepting awards, to delivering eulogies at funerals and memorial services in addition to after-dinner speeches and motivational speeches
Benefits of public speaking class and practice
developing critical thinking skills, fine-tuning verbal and nonverbal skills, influencing the world around you, developing leadership skills, becoming a thought leader and overcoming a fear of public speaking
is to take a source's basic idea and condense it using your own words
using someone else's words or ideas without giving credit
Kinds of and timing of anxiousness surrounding speeches
-Anticipation - the minute prior to starting the speech (anxiety peaks in this stage)
-Confrontation- the first minute of the speech
-Adaptation- the last minute of the speech
-Release- the minute immediately following the end of the speech
Types of Speaking anxiety
Trait anxiety, context anxiety, formality, novelty, audience anxiety, situational anxiety
Measures how people generally feel across situations and time periods. some people feel more uncomfortable than the average person regardless of the context, audience, or situation. It doesn't matter whether you are raising your hand in a group discussion, talking with people you meet at a party, or giving speeches in a class, you're likely to be uncomfortable in all these settings if you experience trait anxiety. While trait anxiety is not the same as shyness, those with high trait anxiety are more likely to avoid exposure to public speaking situations, so their nervousness might be compounded by lack of experience or skill
-Anxiety prompted by specific communication contexts
-Some of the major context factors that can heighten this form of anxiety are formality, uncertainty, and novelty.
-Formality- When faced with a more formal public speaking setting, they become intimidated and nervous
-Uncertainty- it is hard to predict and control the flow of information in such contexts, so the level of uncertainty is high. The feelings of context anxiety might be similar to those you experience on the first day of class with a new instructor: you don't know what to expect, so you are more nervous than you might be later in the semester when you know the instructor and the class routine better.
-Novelty- Anxiety becomes more of an issue in communications environments that are new to us
Describes communication apprehension prompted by specific audience characteristics. These characteristics include similarity, subordinate status, audience size, and familiarity.
The combination of influences generated by audience, time and context. The situation created by a given audience, in a given time, and in a given context can coalesce into situational anxiety.
critical thinking and listening skills
Using careful, systematic thinking and reasoning to see whether a message makes sense in light of factual evidence. Receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating and feedback
this type of listening can be learned with practice but is not necessarily easy to do. Some people never learn this skill; instead, they take every message at face value even when those messages are in conflict with their knowledge. Problems occur when messages are repeated to others who have not yet developed the skills to discern the difference between a valid message and a mistaken one. Critical listening can be particularly difficult when the message is complex. Treasurer using big words to avoid scrutiny example.
rests heavily on honest intentions. We should extend to speakers the same respect we want to receive when it's our turn to speak. We should be facing the speaker with our eyes open. We should not be checking our cell phones. We should avoid any behavior that belittles the speaker or the message.
Keys to critical listening
-Recognizing the difference between facts and opinion, uncovering assumptions, be open to new ideas, rely on reason and common sense, relate new ideas to old
Types of audience analysis
-Audience analysis is the process of gathering information about the people in your audience so that you can understand their needs, expectations, beliefs, values, attitudes, and likely opinions.
-Demographic analysis, psychographic analysis, situational audience analysis
-factors such as gender, age, marital status, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status
Situational audience analysis
-focuses on characteristics related to the specific speaking situation
-audience size, occasion, involuntariness of audience, physical setting
information which includes such things as values, opinions, attitudes and beliefs
keys to audience analysis
-direct observation, create interviews or surveys, focus group of people who give you feedback about their perceptions, use existing data about audience.
-In order to create effective tools for audience analysis, interview and survey questions must be clear and to the point, focus groups must be facilitated carefully, and you must be aware of multiple interpretations of direct observations or existing research about your audience
Reasons to adapt to your speech
-not to offend your audience
-make it appropriate for age, gender, race, socioeconomic status
-make the topic relatable
-don't want to bore audience
Reasons for knowing your audience
-You can use your audience analysis to provide you further information about what types of content would be appropriate and meaningful for you specific audience
-You can use your audience analysis to help you make adjustments to your speech in terms of both how you present the speech within a given environment and also how you adapt your content and delivery based on audience feedback during the speech
Selecting a topic is a process. We often start by selecting a broad area of knowledge and then narrowing the topic to one that is manageable for a given rhetorical situation. When finalizing a specific purpose for your speech you always ask yourself four basic questions: 1) does the topic match my intended general purpose 2) is the topic appropriate for my audience 3) is the topic appropriate for the given speaking context 4) can I reasonable hope to inform or persuade my audience in the time frame I have for the speech?
Aspects of specific purpose
starts with one of the three general purposes and then specifies the actual topic you have chosen and the basic objective you hope to accomplish with your speech. Basically the specific purpose answers the who, what, when, where, and why questions for your speech.
occurs when a speaker urges listeners to engage in a specific behavior or change a point of view because the speaker truly believes that the change is in the best interest of the audience members
-carried out to discover or revise facts, theories, and applications and is reported by the person conducting the research.
-can be considered an active form of research because the researcher is actually conducting the research for the purpose of creating new knowledge
-surveys and interviews
-carried out to discover or revise facts, theories, and applications but it is reported by someone not involved in conducting the actual research.
-citing sources
keys to selecting evidence
-There are three primary reasons to use support: to clarify content, to increase speaker credibility and to make the speech more vivid
-a good piece of support should be accurate, authoritative, current, and unbiased
-use statistics, definitions, examples, narratives, analogies
keys of website analysis and reliability
You need to select a good search engine to help you find appropriate information, make sure they are reliable, not wikipedia, they are relevant, up-to-date, and have other citation of where they got their information from
needs to be credible, accurate, up to date, sourced, have authority, trustworthy, objectivity
Goals and parts of a thesis statement
-a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. A strong clear thesis statement is very valuable within an introduction because it lays out the basic goal of the entire speech. should reflect topic, be simple, direct, gain audience interest and be easy to understand
-attention grabber, link to topic, reason to listen, credibility, and thesis statement.
types of attention- getting devices and appropriate situations for use
-Reference to subject: most direct, but least interesting. tell your audience the subject of your speech
-Reference to audience- the speaker has a clear understanding of the audience and points out something unique about the audience
-Quotation- use the words of another person that relate directly to your topic.
-Reference to current event- makes audience aware how current and relevant your topic is to today's world.
Historical reference- this strategy is closely related to the previous one, except that instead of a recent news event you are reaching further back in history to find a relevant reference.
Anecdote- a brief account or story of an interesting or humorous event. Notice the emphasis here is on the word "brief."
Startling statement- startles audience and gets them interested in topic. Often, startling statements come in the form of statistics and strange facts. The goal of a good startling statistic is that it surprises the audience and gets them engaged in your topic.
Question: response or rhetorical, gets the audiences thinking about topic and answer humor. A response question is a question that the audience is expected to answer in some manner. A rhetorical question, on the other hand, is a question to which no actual reply is expected.
Personal reference- refer to a story about yourself that is relevant for your topic. Some of the best speeches are ones that come from personal knowledge and experience. If you are an expert or have firsthand experience related to your topic, sharing this information with the audience is a great way to show that you are credible during your attention-getter.
Humor- We cannot begin to explain all the amazing facets of humor within this text, but we can say that humor is a great way of focusing an audience on what you are saying. However, humor is a double-edged sword. If you do not wield the sword carefully, you can turn your audience against you very quickly. When using humor, you really need to know your audience and understand what they will find humorous.
Categorical/topical Organizational pattern
-organizes a speech by categories or topics. The categories function as a way to help the speaker organize the message in a consistent fashion
-The goal is to create categories (or chunks) of information that go together to help support your original specific purpose.
Compare/contrast organizational pattern
-Selects two objects and shows similarities and differences
Spatial organizational pattern
-organizes information according to how things fit together in physical space
-This pattern is best used when your main points are oriented to different locations that can exist independently. The basic reason to choose this format is to show that the main points have clear locations.
Chronological organization pattern
-places the main idea in the time order in which the item appears whether backwards or forwards
Biographical organization pattern
-generally used when a speaker wants to describe a person's life. either a speaker's own life, the life of someone they know personally, or the life of a famous person. By the nature of this speech organizational pattern, these speeches tend to be informative or entertaining; they are usually not persuasive
causal organization pattern
used to explain cause-effect relationship. When you use a causal speech pattern, your speech will have two basic main points: cause and effect. In the first main point, typically you will talk about the causes of a phenomenon, and in the second main point you will then show how the causes lead to either a specific effect or a small set of effects.
Problem-cause-solution organizational pattern
-In this format you describe a problem, identify what you believe is causing the problem, and then recommend a solution to correct the problem.
psychological organizational pattern
a leads to b and b leads to c. This speech format is designed to follow a logical argument, so this format lends itself to persuasive speeches very easily.
-ex: how laughing effects the body, how bodily effects can help healing, strategies for using humor in healing
-phrase or sentence that indicates that a speaker is moving from one main point to another main point in a speech.
-the beginning phrase of the sentence indicates the conclusion of a period of time (now that, thus far).
The three steps in an effective conclusion
1) a restatement of the speech's thesis
2) a review of the main points discussed with in the speech
3) a concluding device that helps create a lasting image in audiences' minds
The Serial Position Effect, Ebbinghaus
-Ebbinghaus proposed that humans remember information in a linear fashion, which he called this. He found an individual's ability to remember information in a list depends on the location of an item on the list. Specifically, he found that items toward the top of the list and items toward the bottom of the list tended to have the highest recall rates.
-An outline you use for developing your speech. The basic structure of your speech
Full plan of everything you intend to say in your speech
uses key words and phrases, and extended quotations, less detail, on notecards.
thesis statement should only express one main idea
maintain consistent in tense, language, and topic
To make sure your audience will understand your speech, you must set aside the assumption that what is obvious to you is also obvious to your audience. Therefore, pay attention to definitions of terms and support for your main points.
give equal time to each of your three main points
-3 main points follow the same structure or same kind of language
- also allows you to check for inconsistencies and self-contradictory statements
-practice in front of a mirror, notice when you become more anxious and use tools to disperse anxiety, try to practice in the room, practice in front of a group, use note cards, practice until you feel comfortable
preparing you speaking note cards
-use only key words and phrases
-hold notes naturally
-prepare note cards to trigger recall
-write in large letters
Impromptu method of delivery
-presentation of a short message without advance preparation
-Impromptu speeches often occur when someone is asked to "say a few words" or give a toast on a special occasion.
extemporaneous speaking method of delivery
-presentation of a carefully planned and rehearsed speech, spoken in a conversational manner using brief notes
-what we do in class
manuscript speaking method of delivery
-word for word iteration of a spoken message
-the speaker maintains his or her attention on the printed page except when using visual aids
the recitation of a written message that has been committed to memory
audience should feel that you are speaking to them not uttering some points, sign of confidence, don't want it to be intimidating, don't take it or focus on one point, can look at notes but then go back to making sure that you give eye contact to everyone in the room
3 basic goals of informative speaking
1) accuracy
2) clarity
3) interest
tips for making information clear and interesting
-adjusting the complexity of your information to the audience
-avoiding jargon
-creating concrete images
-limiting information only to what is most relevant
-linking information to what the audience already knows
-making information memorable through language or personalization
Katherine Rowan's Three Sources of Audience Confusion
-difficult concepts or language (For example, they may not understand what the term "organic food" means or how it differs from "all-natural" foods.) Rowan suggests a quasi-scientific explanation, which starts by giving a big-picture perspective on the process. Presentation aids or analogies might be helpful in giving an overview of the process.
-difficult to envision structures or processes (he blood circulation system in the body might be an example of a difficult-to-envision process. To address this type of audience confusion, Rowan suggests a quasi-scientific explanation, which starts by giving a big-picture perspective on the process)
-ideas that are difficult to understand because they are hard to believe (This often happens when people have implicit, but erroneous, theories about how the world works. For example, the idea that science tries to disprove theories is difficult for some people to understand; after all, shouldn't the purpose of science be to prove things? )
5 types of informative speeches
-object
-people
-events
-concepts
-processes
The purpose of such an explanation is to clarify the meaning and use of the concept by focusing on essential features of the concept.
quasi-scientific explanation
starts by giving a big-picture perspective on the process. Presentation aids or analogies might be helpful in giving an overview of the process. For the circulatory system, you could show a video or diagram of the entire system or make an analogy to a pump.
transformative explanation
begins by discussing the audience's implicit theory and showing why it is plausible. Then you move to showing how the implicit theory is limited and conclude by presenting the accepted explanation and why that explanation is better. knows the audience has a preconceived notion and tries to change it

Adapting to Your Audience[1]

When you communicate ideas, you need to adapt the way you present those thoughts so they suit the audience. The way you would explain climate change to your grandmother is different from the way you would explain it to a room full of scientists (unless, of course, Grandma is a scientist). Writing is one form of communication, so an important part of writing is adapting how you present your information to fit your audience. This writing symposium explores ways to adapt messages so they are appropriate for their intended audiences.

A Definition of Audience

An audience is the reader or group of readers who read a particular piece of writing. It could be your professor or the grader of an exam; it could be the readers of a blog or a newspaper op-ed column; or it could be the reader of a grant proposal for a million dollars. Each of these audiences has different needs and expectations. It is imperative that you anticipate these needs and expectations, conveying information and arguing ideas with those factors in mind.

Determining the Audience Type

Before you start writing, ask and answer the following questions. These answers will shape the tone and style of your writing.

  • Who is your audience? What are the age, gender, education, occupation, economic status, and political, social, and religious beliefs of the audience for whom you are writing?
  • What is the level or need of knowledge of your audience? Is it a lay audience, an expert audience, a managerial audience, or some other kind of audience? Does your audience need to read a general overview, a detailed treatise, or about particular facts?
  • What is the reading context of your audience? Is the audience going to read this writing as a manuscript, as an Internet blog, or in a newspaper, published report, specialized journal, or popular magazine?

Analyzing an Audience

Once you have figured out who your audience is, what its level and knowledge needs are, and what the reading context is, then you need to do a careful analysis of the audience. You need to think carefully about its background knowledge, reasons for reading your writing, and potential biases. Answering these questions will help shape what you write, as well as how you present it.

  • What is the background of your audience? How much does it know about your topic? Does it have first-hand experience with the topic, or does it know only what it has read?
  • What are the audience’s reasons for reading your writing? Why do they need to know about the material you are presenting? Is it background information? Is it for making budget or policy decisions? Is the audience looking for evidence of a problem, or is it looking for solutions to a problem?
  • Does the audience have biases about your topic? Does it have strong opinions that are unlikely to change? Alternatively, has the audience recognized the need to reexamine its opinions? Is it open to change?

Writing for an Audience

Once you have scoped out your audience, you need to think about the writing itself. What is your purpose? What are the audience’s expectations about the writing? What kind of appeal are you going to make? The answers to these questions will largely be the result of the nature of your audience.

Most important in any piece of writing is to be clear on its purpose. You must be clear in your own mind exactly what your purpose is. You must also clearly convey to your audience what the purpose of the writing is. If you are not clear in your own mind, you cannot convey the purpose to the audience. Even if the purpose of the writing is clear to you, if you fail to convey that purpose to the audience, they will be lost and will turn off.

You need to know your audience’s expectations about the writing. What format is it expecting? Is it expecting a technical piece with many technical terms and definitions? Is it expecting a personal reflection with anecdotes and experiences? An audience expecting technical material will turn off to personal reflections, whereas an audience looking for personal reflections will turn off to technical material.

Most writers try to convince their audience to believe the writing. Even novelists try to convince the audience that their stories are plausible. To do so, writers must appeal to logic, emotion, or some other need. Logic is straightforward, requiring a logical progression of facts that lead to an obvious conclusion. Emotional appeals are less direct and try to elicit such responses as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, love, hope, anxiety, guilt, shame, or jealousy. An audience looking for logic will turn off to emotion; an audience more likely to respond to emotion is unlikely to respond to logic.

In the end, a writer needs to be keenly aware of the audience — of its nature, its context, and its expectations. Misjudging any of these things can result in even technically good writing missing its mark. Writing that misses its mark is not just wasted effort; it is poor writing.


[1]Adapted from Writing@CSU (2007). “Writing guides: Writing Processes: Publishing: Adapting to your audience,” Colorado State University Ft. Collins, CO. Accessed at http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/processes/audmod/index.cfm.

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