Y ou have a keynote to deliver in two weeks. Easy, you might think – bring out the PowerPoint deck, brush it off, repurpose it, and, Voila! But don’t forget, no one goes to hear a speech in order to ignore what’s being said or to socialize. This very audience wants something very specific from you. The message is simple: Know who they are.
If you think you are doing enough audience analysis, do much more. The place to start is with the speech request, which should state something about the objectives of the sponsoring body. Ask if you can talk with an audience member. Find out: who are the people hanging on your words going to be? Are they local or global? If you have people listening to you from Ghana, learn about their culture; they may perceive your messages differently than those from the USA, and they will appreciate your taking the time to know about them.
Are there Millennials or Boomers in your audience? Folks from the Deep South? How do they talk? Use the words they use. Dig deep: What keeps them up at night? What do they do for fun? Are they looking for public or industry policy ideas? Facts? What are their sympathies? Fears? Aspirations? – These may be a matter of imaginative speculation from what you’ve already learned about your audience. But your research and your imagination should lead you to see your audience in your mind’s eye, and say to yourself, “I know who you are.”
Once in a while your research will unearth some information that will add sparkle to your speech. But the key reason for all this homework is so that your words and your message will resonate deeply with your audience. When it does, you will have them, and when you make your call to action, they will act.