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Pretend you are telling one of your best friends about a first date. Now imagine that you are telling one of your parents about the same date. Chances are you are probably going to alter your story somewhat. You are going to change your tone, your word choices, and you are probably even going to edit certain details. Thinking in terms of your audience is a critical step as you prepare for crafting a speech or presentation. Before you write one single word, spend some time developing an audience persona. An audience persona is an individual representation of your entire audience.
Instead of thinking of a large faceless group, think of one single person that you'll be talking to. Developing a persona can help you keep a consistent tone, and putting a face on one person instead of thinking of a large faceless group can help you develop a more personal connection to your audience. To develop a persona, take steps to understand your audience as thoroughly as you can. This involves getting answers to key audience identification questions. I have included a list of starter questions and a worksheet you can complete at the end of this video.
The point of the exercise is to uncover commonalties as well as a few rich details. For example, an event coordinator for a restaurant association asked me to give a presentation about social media at an annual conference. One of the first statements I said to her was, "Tell me everything you can about the audience. Who are they?" While this is a really broad, open-ended question, it often quickly reveals the most obvious insights. In this case the event coordinator told me that most of the audience either owned restaurants or were top management in the food service industry.
And most use Facebook to promote their businesses but wanted to learn how to use it better. So within a few seconds of asking this very broad question, I had a much better idea of what my audience all had in common. To flesh out richer character- developing details, I often ask other questions like What do they do for fun? or What TV shows might they watch? For example, I once learned an offbeat detail, most of my audience listened to conservative talk radio programs in their offices when they had the time.
Now, this detail had nothing to do with the topic of my speech, but it played a significant role in deciding which anecdotes might help me better connect with a largely conservative audience. When developing a persona you are looking for both broad commonalties as well as rich personal details. These details can help you imagine a unique and interesting character to talk to. Imagining one person makes writing and delivering you speech easier, and it also helps you emotionally connect with your audience.
Take some time to develop an audience persona. Look for broad commonalities as well as some character-defining details that can help you visualize one single person to talk to.
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