Art of Audience Psychology: Characteristics of Audience (Part 1)
If a speaker wishes to master the art of audience psychology, he should consider the following audience characteristics:
Knowledge of the Audience about Speaker
If you wish to be effective in your persuasion, you must know how you stand with your audience. Is your audience for, against, or neutral toward you and the cause you represent? Remember that you do not have the advantage that famous people do - that is, their prestige. But, you can create favorable attitudes towards you, which you can elicit from your audience, if you make efforts to let your audience know something about you as a speaker.
It may be wise to give important data about you to the chairman of the speaking situation so that he can use these data in introducing you. On the other hand, some speakers use newspaper advertising to help get the audience in a receptive mood. The more the audience knows about you, the more favorable it will be for you in terms of audience reception of you as a speaker. For this reason, use every legitimate means to get the audience in a favorable frame of mind about you as a speaker.
Knowledge of Audience about Subject
What does the audience know about your subject? Is the audience familiar with the subject you will present? Is the audience ignorant of your topic? It would be wise on your part to spend much time on the manner you present your material. The success of your winning your audience to your cause will be dependent on your treatment of your subject, and the techniques of persuasion you will use. If the audience is quite unfamiliar with your subject or totally ignorant of it, you will probably begin with the familiar and progress to the unfamiliar. If the audience appears to be indifferent to your subject, you will have to show how the discussion is going to affect them and their wants.
Occasion as Exerting an Influence on the Audience
Occasion determines the attitudes and reactions of audiences. For example, in political rallies audiences are more responsive - they are more volatile, and they will readily applaud the speaker or boo him at the slightest excuse.
The occasion of the gathering has much to do with the mood of the audience. In a birthday party, the group that has gathered is apt to be gay, light-hearted, ready to laugh and to enjoy what is said. In a lecture forum or a symposium the audience becomes serious, formal and restrained in its emotional reactions to the speech.
The Homogeneity of the Audience
It is important for the speaker to inquire into the factors that draw the listening group together. What is the common denominator of their interests? What common chord can be struck which will arouse a similar response in the members of the listening group present? Remember, the more homogeneous the audience is, the more effective is the securing of their interest and concentration in your speech. People of like interests will be better able to follow a speech that is less varied in its appeal than will a miscellaneous group. Though the audience may be made up of members of different levels of culture and education, still they are bound together by a common cause that brings them together to listen to your speech. Hence, you must try to determine the common factor that binds your audience together into a homogeneous group.