Chapter 5: Audience Analysis
Home Up Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Listening Chapter 5: Audience Analysis Chapter 7: Organizing Chapter 8: Delivery and Visual Resources Chapter 4: Small Group Communication Ch. 6, Being Credible Using Evidence Chapter 3: Interpersonal Communication

Chapter 5

Topic Selection and Audience Analysis

I. Finding a topic

    A. Involvement with topic: Reflects importance of a topic to the speaker.

      Effort: How much effort do you put into a topic? For example, a mother could be actively involved in a campaign against autism. She goes to meetings about autism, support groups, is a member of many autism organizations, reads and autism, etc.

      Time: How much time do you spend on a topic? For example, someone may spend hours on trying to understand how computers work.

    B. Knowledge of topic:

        Consider what you know and what you need to know. For example, a
        person who decides to speak to others about painting may realize she doesn't
        know much about the different types of paint and decides to research the
        different types of paint.


    C. Personal inventories:

        Survey of your choices: hobbies, talents, organizations, music, etc.

    E. Brainstorming:

        Think of as many topics within time limit and narrow the topics down to the best choice.

    F. Research: Read newspapers and magazines, journal articles, watch news, etc.

II. Websites for Research

    A. Library: Article databases

      Communication and Mass Media Complete (full text articles)

      Psych Info (abstracts)

      Lexis-Nexis (news paper articles)

      Opposing Viewpoints (provides opposing views on controversial issues)

III. Informing vs. Persuading

            Informing:                                 Persuading:
           Teaches                                     Advocates
           Provides options                      Urges choice
           "Gives to"                                "Asks from"
           Little commitment                   High commitment
           High ethics                               Higher ethics

IV.  Four Levels of Audience Analysis

Audience analysis is the collection and  interpretation of audience characteristics through observation, inferences, questionnaires, or interviews. Here are the four levels:

    A. Captive vs. Voluntary

        Captive = Not chosen to hear speech

        Voluntary = Chosen to hear speech

        Captive audiences = heterogeneous (diverse)

        Voluntary = homogenous (similar)

    B. Demographics




            Racial, ethnic background


    C. Audience Interest & Knowledge

        Interest = relevance, importance to audience

        Knowledge = Amount of info. audience already knows

    D. Attitudes, Beliefs, Values

        Attitudes = Predisposition to respond favorably or unfavorable to a message.

        Beliefs = A belief is a conviction that something is true or untrue (ex: Bible is Godís word).
        For example, it would be hard to convince someone to support universal health care in the
        the USA if he/she believes that the federal government should be
        small and play a minimal role in the lives of citizens. Thus, the belief that
       "government should be small" needs to be addressed when talking to this person.

        Values = A value is a deeply rooted beliefs (Ex: wisdom, world peace, wealth,
        security, freedom, etc.) For example, to persuade people to go to war with another
        nation it may be important to appeal to peoples sense of security or freedom.

V. Three Methods of Audience Analysis

    A. Observation: Actually seeing behavior, characteristics; listening to what others say

    B. Inference: Tentative conclusion based on observation (may or may not be accurate)

    C. Questionnaires: Asking about demographics, attitudes, preferences

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This page last updated August 21, 2007

Arkansas State University