Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Knowing your audience is crucial

It would be surprising if you were to ask anyone who has taken a Coker College Puffer course in public speaking what the most important principle of public speaking is and they did not answer immediately -- Knowing your audience. I am not always sure that I am as clear as I need to be about why you need to know your audience but I think it is repeated so often the basic principle gets across. One of the sayings outside my office is by Red Auerbach, former coach of the Boston Celtics, and I heard him say this on the radio the other day, "It doesn't matter what you say, what matters is what they hear."

Just recently I completed THE 21 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF LEADERSHIP by John C. Maxwell and when he discusses the "Law of Connection" he does a good job of highlighting a leader's need to know the audience. One of the outtakes in the chapter on The Law of Connection is a quote that is on target for this subject of knowing your audience: "It's one thing to communicate to people because you believe you have something of value to say. It's another to communicate with people because you believe they have value." (page 119) For me that resonates as the major reason to know your audience. That audience is composed of individuals who have value and your job as a communicator is to add to that value.

Maxwell discusses the guidelines for connecting and I am going to use his thoughts because they reflect my own and because he has written lots of books and spoken to millions of people and his words have value with people wanting to be leaders. You might have to pick up his book to get the details of these eight guidelines but here they are from pp 117 and 118:
1 -- Connect with yourself
2 -- Communicate with openness and sincerity
3 -- Know your audience ("You want to speak to what they care about not just what you care about.")
4 -- Live Your message
5 -- Go to where they are
6 -- Focus on them, not yourself
7 -- Believe in them
8 -- Offer direction and hope -- ("When you give people hope, you give them a future.)

At Coker, the Communication 101 course on public speaking is about getting better at public speaking but the context of becoming a better oral communicator in a liberal arts tradition as that you use this skill in taking leadership within your personal communities. And, this morning, just before writing this blog posting I was listening to President Obama announce his choice for the opening on the Supreme Court. You will find that his announcement followed many of Maxwell's guidelines for effective communication and the Law of Connection. http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=2136966742995179399#

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Mr. Maxwell's thoughts, as well as your own. I found them both interesting and potentially very helpful. Keep up the great work!