Research – Audience Analysis

A good movie makes the audience feel like they’ve journeyed with the characters. Rich Moore


Understanding your audience small or large is on of the keys to our communication success. There are a number of approaches to doing this and some work better than others depending on the size of the audience. Some of these are:

  • typing your audience by communication style and then matching your delivery style to theirs. Typologies that are often used are Myers Briggs or variations on the work of Bolton and Bolton
  • understanding the motivators and values of the audience, so you can speak to these.
  • demographic analysis involves age, gender, culture, ethnicity, race, religion, and educational level.

What follows are a number of papers that you may find useful in thinking about your audience.

Teaching Audience Analysis with Presidential “Victory” Speeches

This article by Kevin T Jones is an activity for those studying communication and compares the speeches of George Bush and Barak Obama. The paper highlights how Obama understood his audience and Bush didn’t. Bush delivered his presentation to three audiences all with differing needs, but targeted it to only one. Hence the messages were confused resulting in poor popularity polls.


Power Maps

An important step in preparing for any presentation is understanding who’s who in the zoo! That is, who has the power to make decisions and who influences those decisions. You may think that the CEO is key decision maker when in fact it is the department head who has the ultimate decision. In order to complete a power map, construct a chart for your audience that identifies names and titles and then allocate a percentage of influence that you perceive that person to have in the decision making process. Then rank the audience from highest to lowest and identify the things that are the most important to them and ensure these are addressed in your presentation.

Eunson, B 2008, ‘Communicating in the 21st century’, in, John Wiley & Sons, Australia, Milton, Qld., pp. 382 – 421.