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Audience-Centered Communication: Description & Effectiveness

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  • 0:01 Audience-Centered…
  • 0:44 Identify Audience
  • 2:00 Audience Feedback
  • 2:50 Effectiveness
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Audience-centered communication is a type of communication where a speaker analyzes the audience to determine the content, language usage and listener expectations. It allows effective communication because the speaker can tailor messages to the needs of the listener.

Audience-Centered Communication

CEO Marty Farty of Slapstick Fun Toys has been asked to give a speech at his alma mater, the University of Florida. He is very excited to have this opportunity to address the graduating class of seniors, but he is very nervous as he has never given a speech to a young audience. He is used to speaking at business events and sales conventions, but he knows that in order to communicate successfully with the graduation class he will need to utilize audience-centered communication. This type of communication is when a speaker analyzes the audience to determine the content, language usage and listener expectations. Marty's first job is to understand and identify his audience.

Identify Audience

It has been over 30 years since Marty graduated from the University of Florida. He is not sure what motivates and interests college students anymore, and he wants to understand their point of view. Marty decides to take a small group of graduating seniors to lunch at an exclusive business club to understand their attitudes, beliefs and values. He also would like to find out what their expectation is for his speech.

Later that week Marty spent over three hours having a lively lunch with a large number of graduating seniors. He learned that their attitudes, or immediate feelings towards graduation, were built around nervousness and excitement. Marty felt that he could tailor his speech by relating how those types of attitudes are normal when facing graduation and transitioning to adulthood.

The lunch meeting also showed that most students' beliefs, or thoughts based on previous experience, were that they would be facing a difficult time finding employment due to previous graduates' struggles. The third piece of information was the students' values, or guides to their behavior, which helped Marty understand their needs for a good-paying job and a career. The lunch also provided a snapshot of the demographics of the group, which is the age, sex and race, in order for him to speak to their needs and motivations.

Audience Feedback

Marty spent the next week crafting his speech. He took into account the audience's expectations, needs, motivations and points of view. He made sure he did not use professional jargon, or words that are only used for specific trade or understood by a small minority. On the day of the big speech, Marty was very excited. He challenged the graduates to reach their full potential and even offered basic tips and advice to securing a job. He told them about his own nervousness in starting his toy company after graduation 30 years ago.

Marty could tell that the speech was going very well because the audience was very engaged. He ended the speech by asking for feedback, or live questions and interactions, to make sure he fulfilled their expectations. A few students asked for specific advice of job hunting, and one student outright asked for a job on the spot.

Effectiveness

The students were very impressed with Marty's speech because he was able to communicate effectively. The president of the university surveyed the students to find out if Marty did a good job. The survey findings were then forwarded directly to Marty. He learned that the students thought he touched upon four areas that provided an effective speech, and they are mutuality, nonjudgmentalism, honesty and fairness.

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