University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department

Analyzing Your Audience

Once you have selected your speech topic it is imperative that you analyze your audience. One easy way to do this in our class is to ask your audience specific questions about your topic so that you can get a better idea of your audience's interests of, knowledge on, and attitudes toward your topic.

To do this you will put together an Audience Analysis Questionnaire for your speech. Include all three types of questions (fixed alternative-and include the alternatives; scale-include the scale; and open ended-provide the space for responses). Please include a few demographic questions, and at least six topic specific questions. You will also want to include an opening and a closing-brief but concise (see example).

Please take the time to use space and justification effectively and allow room for response to the questions. You can reduce the overall size and put the questionnaire two up on a landscape page to conserve paper and copying. You will include demographic questions and an opening & closing. Bring with you a questionnaire for eachperson in class. The following is an example of an audience analysis questionnaire for an informative speech on weather and meteorolgy:

Please answer the following questions about yourself and your current weather knowledge. Circle the response that best describes your answer.

Gender:   FEMALE        MALE

1. What part of the country/ world are you from?

2. Excluding your present location, where have you lived?

3. Have you ever studied weather in high school or college?   YES     NO

4. Briefly describe the most memorable weather event that you've been

5. How often do you watch the weather report on the nightly news?
            Once                3times               5 or more
            a week            a week             times a week 
6. How much time do you spend doing outside activities per week?

7. Have you ever had an event, such as a picnic or parade, canceled due
    to the weather?     YES     NO

8. Briefly describe the difference between low and high pressure system.

9. Have you ever used an old addage or maybe an ache or pain to predict
    what weather was going to happen?     YES     NO

10. To what degree do you feel the weather affects your daily life?
                    Very little         Moderately         Very much so

11. How many pieces of information do you think a weather forecaster 
      uses on a daily basis?
                5 or less             10-15             20 or more

12. How do you feel about meteorologists?

13. Please name or draw some weather symbols you've seen.

Thank you very much for your time and the information you have provided. Please return this questionnaire to Rich. 

Audience Identification is also important.

One of the most useful strategies for adapting your topic and message to your audience is to use the process of identification. What do you and your audience have in common? And conversely, how are you different? What ideas or examples in your speech can your audience identify with?

It is essential to select a topic that you know well, that you feel comfortable with, or that you have a strong interest in. Once that step is completed, you need to consider the audience as you develop and shape your topic. It is essential to present your message (speech) from the audience's point of view.

For example, a nursing major in a public speaking class wanted to give a demonstration speech on the proper way to insert an IV (intravenous needle). Since her audience was a more general audience (a mixture of majors) rather than a specialized audience (nursing students), they had little potential use for the information presented from the point of view of the "nurse." So the student used her expertise and knowledge to shift the point of view to the audience. She changed her message from how to insert an IV to how to relax while receiving an IV; therefore, she made the same message more useful to her audience. Her intention was to help them feel less fearful or apprehensive about an IV.

Consider the following 10 questions when adapting your topics and
messages to a particular audience:

What do you and your audience have in common?

How are you and your audience different?

What ideas or examples in your speech might your audience identify with?

How can your topic or the information benefit your audience?

How can your audience use the information?

How will the information help your audience?

What is your audience's amount of interest in or attitude toward your topic?

How will you address or compensate for your audience's amount of interest in or attitude toward your topic?

What does your audience know about your topic?

What might they want to know or need to know about your topic?

The Public Speakers' Resources
|Public Speakers' Page | Speech 151 | Speech 251 | Public Speaking Resources|
|Supporting Your Speech | Sample Speeches | Speech Practice | Speaking Tips|
|Speech Anxiety | Team Presentations | Group Communication | Interviewing|
|Using Visual Aids | ESL Links | Anonymous Feedback | Ron St. John|
|The Learning Center | MCC Library | Maui Language Institute|
|Distance Education Academic Support Services|
|The Ho'oulu OnLine (Student Newspaper)|
|The University of Hawai'i at Manoa|

Page Designer: Ron St. John
Copyright 2002 - Ka Leo Kumu
Last Revised: January 16, 2002