As a fledgling speaker, I had much to learn about audience. Not just any audience, MY audience.

Who is my target audience?

Who are the people that are going to sit in those seats and absorb with keen attention everything I have to say (or write).   And hopefully apply it to their lives.  My first thought was, “Well. I guess all women.”  Well, that would be a wrong guess and  Facebook tells me so!  (Even though I learned this first at the Leverage Conference, but it has become oh, so clear on Facebook. Sometimes you need just need to see the principle in action!)

I posted a tongue-in-cheek story on Facebook. Those who follow me know I usually add a little humor to my posts. It went something like this …

My friend Aimee, texted me early this morning.

A – I have a favor to ask, but please DO NOT feel obligated. I’m going to Tracy this morning to pick up a dresser on Craigslist. I don’t want to go alone to someone’s house. It’s in the country. Past a gate. A little nervous. You like don’t even have to get out of the car, just want you to be my bodyguard. Or be a witness in case they chop me up into little pieces.

I was hesitant. She then offered me Starbucks. I was in. But I said:

E: I’m leaving my rings at home though.

A: Yes, leave all jewels at home. You are a doll.

E: It’s good if we don’t look too cute because then they won’t take advantage of us.

We agreed on no makeup and sweats.

A: I brought my Mace too. Just in case. And I brought fruit for a snack.

E: If we live to see snack time …

So if we are not back within two hours, Facebook friends, send out a search party, deep within the back roads of Tracy.

I assumed my Facebook friends would know I was joking and that we were having fun with the Craigslist murderer stories we’ve heard. Most of my friends got it and joked back. Love that! But then there were a few of my friends who commented:

  1. “Next time ask help from a friend.”
  2. “Wow Emily, I’ve been picking up CL stuff for years – sometimes with a friend. Never felt afraid … “
  3. “Like adventures but sure glad there are two of you.”

Know your target audience

I learned through these comments, that we expect every audience member to get what we are saying, but not every person does.

Take me for example; I’m an Inspirational Entertainer. I think my entire audience is going to think I’m funny or think I’m a fantastic storyteller with a pertinent insight. Might not be the case. Even my Facebook followers, who were my friends who knew me, didn’t ALL  ‘get me’. There may be analytics or worrywarts in the room who just won’t get my message or ‘get me’.

The same applies to an Educator communicator. You assume everyone will understand and apply all the good information you’ve taught them. But some are there because their mom made them come or some have ADD and can’t concentrate or some just want something light, not so heavy. It isn’t your fault as the speaker for not connecting with them, it’s that those people, even though they are in the audience, are not your target audience.

This could be the same case for those who post critical comments. Those people might not be part of your target audience . They criticize because they don’t prefer the way you present. Yet they might align with another speaker wholeheartedly, whose style they resonate with, even though you both deliver the same information.

Connecting with your target audience

Just as there is not ONE speaker that resonates and connects with every person in the audience, there is no event where 100% of the audience is going to connect with you. What a relief to know that! I need to seek to make a connection with MY target audience.

So, in creating my audience avatar, the person belonging to comment #2, even though a friend, is not going to be the person I build it around. She’s too literal and not loose enough to understand my nuances. Now, the person who commented, “Who’s Thelma and who’s Lousie?!?!” is the person who ‘gets me’ and it’s her I will create my audience avatar around!

So who is YOUR specific audience?  It’s with them you need to make your connection!

target audienceEmily Nelson lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Gregg. They have launched three boys out of the nest so Emily has more time to write, speak and serve. Emily was trained as a teacher and worked as a Drama Director, so she believes communication is key. She contributes to Refocus, a video devotional app, is a blogger at Beyond the Red Chair, and loves to emcee events.


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