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How to Speak to Your Audience

Apr 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM

How to Speak to Your Audience

A manager is presenting the latest project to department workers.

An email is prepared for clientele.

A CEO prepares a speech for the stockholder meeting.

A newspaper editor prepares the editorial column.

A teacher prepares class lessons.

A pastor prepares a sermon.

What is common to all of these methods of communications? The starting point.

1. Start here

The starting point for all communication is understanding the intended audience and approaching them on an appropriate level. The more you know and understand about the background of your audience and their needs, the better you can prepare your communication. This applies to verbal as well as written communication.

In order to prepare any communication, it is important to know about the audience and adapt the message to the audience. Understanding who makes up your target audience will allow you to carefully plan your message and adapt what you say to the level of understanding and background of the listeners.

2. Think about the people

To ensure successful communication, first think about the people who will receive it. Gain insight into what they want to know and how they want to be addressed. By showing the audience that you thought about these factors before approaching them, you’re demonstrating that you care about them.

3. Organize your ideas

It’s a true sign of respect for your audience. Show that you are concerned for their time and attention. Plan to present the information that will make the most sense to them. And make sure that those you may not have yet communicated to understand what you are saying.

4. Understand that all are not equal

Your role and experiences are not your audience’s. Don’t assume everyone has the same background or experiences. Including such assumptions in your communications segregates and alienates audience members with different backgrounds and experiences.

5. Determine your tone

One part of communication we often do not examine is how we deliver our message or the tone we use when we are communicating with others. Yet our tone might actually be more important than what we say. Your audience will interpret your communication based on your tone, and your tone can mean different things for different audiences. Again, tone applies to both written and verbal communication.

  • Formality—The tone for communications should be based on the audience.

  • Positioning—Be positive in your writing, even if the information is negative.

  • Courteousness—Convey strength and confidence.

  • Honesty—Be honest and sincere.

  • Appropriateness—Always use appropriate language

6. Consider verbal and written factors

For verbal communication, also consider these factors:

  • Voice inflections—Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence.

  • Pitch of your voice—Your voice should go up and down at the right times.

  • Pace of your speech—How fast or slow you speak should be geared toward your audience.

  • Volume—Too loud or too soft will turn off your intended audience.

For written communication, DO NOT USE CAPS OR MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! (Don’t you feel like you are being yelled at?)

7. Be true to yourself

You are communicating to others based upon your relationship with them. That relationship’s future is determined by how you communicate.

  • Business relationships—These should always be on a professional basis. Good grammar, proper language, and factual information are all important aspects in business communications.

  • Professional relationships—These include communications with teachers and other professionals. Showing respect and empathy is paramount for you, as is good grammar, language, and information.

  • Personal relationships—You have more options here. Each communication should be based on the relationship you have with the person you are communicating with.

Church workers often communicate via “professional” relationships. You communicate to church members, school children, church groups, the community, other church workers, and most important—the unchurched. While your message may be the same for different groups, each group is a different audience with different experiences and thus requires a different method and tone in the communication.

Each group receives your information differently and at different levels. When you are conveying the Good News about Jesus, look at each of the factors and how your various audiences will receive them. Vary your tone and message accordingly.

The main point in knowing your audience is to help you speak to them in a language they understand about things of interest to them while building them up. Know your audience.

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Ann Ciaccio

Written by Ann Ciaccio

Ann Ciaccio is the Communications Assistant for the LCMS Northern Illinois District. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she studied Marketing and is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia, Illinois. Ann enjoys the challenge of using her marketing skills as a tool to help carry out the mission and ministry of the Northern Illinois District. She is married and has two daughters, a junior in high school and a freshman in college. Her motto: “dark chocolate works.”

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