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Public Relations, Communication
Material Type:
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Audience Analysis
  • Demographics
  • Ocm0132
  • Psychographics
  • Sitational Analysis
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
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    Audience Analysis Resources

    Audience Analysis Resources


    Audience Analysis Slide

    One of the keys to successful public speaking is being audience-centered.   Always asking the question: What’s in it for them?  Thoughtful audience analysis allows the speaker to adapt all presentations to the needs of their specific audience and situation.  Audience analysis is categorized into three types: demographic, psychographic and situational analysis.  Demographic analysis addresses who your audience is in terms of age, race, religion, education, income, occupation and group affiliation.  Psychographic analysis explores an audience’s attitudes toward the speaker and topic. Situation analysis focuses on the physical environment in which you will be presenting and why the audiences attend. The section further explores tools for gathering audience analysis information by using existing databases, direct observation, interviews, surveys or focus groups.  Without audience analysis you’re just talking. ith audience analysis, you are speaking with a purpose, which makes a great difference on the impact of your message.

    Learning Objectives

    • Define audience analysis.
    • Explain the importance of audience analysis.
    • Distinguish between the types of audience analysis: demographic, psychographic, and situational analysis.
    • Appraise and practice the various audience analysis methods: direct observation, interview, survey, focus group or existing data.

    (This Module meets the TAG/OCM 013 for a Public Speaking Course; Learning Outcome 3)

    Recommended Textbook Resources

    Supplemental Content/Alternative Resources

    Alternative Resources:

    • A short video on the importance of audience analysis. This video alings well with the recommended text.  It is embedded into the powerpoint, on section review slide as a summary.
    • American Factfinder - A web-site for doing demographic analysis, searchable by zip code.
    • Policy Map - A web-site for doing demographic analysis, searchable by zip code and topic. The Public edition is free to use without registration.
    • Additional text content on Psychographic Analysis. If you want more detail on the psychographic analysis of your audience, how they feel about the topic or you as a speaker, you may want to add section 2.3 from Exploring Public Speaking (3rd ed.)
    • Student Handout on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs  (2.3) Psychographic Characteristics  - Audience’s Beliefs, Attitudes, Values, and Needs.  This could be also covered in the introduction into persuasive speaking.  
    • Student handouts summarizing Audience Analysis

    Additional videos regarding audience analysis:


      Topic Application Section

      Demographic Analysis EXERCISE

      (25-45 minutes depending on length of class discussion)

      Using the American Factfinder -  website choose two or more zip codes in your area that represent different types of populations in terms of AGE, EDUCATION, RACE, INCOME, etc.   Ask the students to identify how these things might affect a presentation on a topics like School Funding, Medicare Reform, Retirement Strategies, Mandatory Pre-School, etc.  

      After students look at different information, ask them how their presentation on “School Funding” would differ to a community who has an older population (over 50)  vs. one that has young families with children.  

      This is a good place to cautioning students from engaging in stereotyping and an egocentric worldview.  Conducting audience analysis is very important, but how can we as speakers prevent stereotyping our audience in speeches?

      Pre-Speech Analysis EXERCISE

      (25-45 minutes depending on length of class discussion)

      After you have assigned the Informative or persuasive speech and students have chosen a topic.  Divide students into pairs and ask them to review what types of demographic, psychographic, and situational information would be important to successfully presenting their topic.  How would they find this information? 


      (75 minutes in class interviews, out of class speech preparation and practice time,  40-90 minutes depending on length speeches and size of class.  Time can be adjusted to make it fit one class session)

      Break students into pairs.  Speech Time limit:  2-4 minutes  Goal:  To introduce your partner to the class (so that we will get to know them better as a person).  Try to find out things like:  their “light bulb” moments, moments that changed them, most embarrassing moment, who has influenced them the most, hopes and dreams for the future. You are shooting for ONE major thing, fact, or event about your partner (Gotcha!) -- What is important to them and why it’s important. 

      What type of information does this give you about your audience?  What audience analysis tool are you using?  

      End of Section Review

      Topic Summary

      Define audience analysis and why it is important to do before all presentations.  Review the  tools for gathering audience analysis information.  Demonstrate effective audience analysis by using existing databases, direct observation, interviews, surveys or focus groups.  Distinguish between the three types of audience analysis: demographic, psychographic and situational analysis.

      Glossary of key terms/concepts

      1. Audience-Centered
      2. Audience Analysis
      3. Frame of Reference
      4. Demographic Analysis
      5. Psychographic Analysis
      6. Situational Analysis
      7. Voluntary Audience
      8. Captive Audience
      9. Direct Observation
      10. Interview
      11. Survey
      12. Focus Group

      Review questions

      1.  What does it mean to be audience centered?
      2. Mary is wanting to give her informative speech on John F. Kennedy.  She decides to discusses that he is the 35th President of the United States, born in Massachusetts, and was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963.   Does this have the makings of a good presentation for a college audience? Why or why not?
      3. How might the situational factors influence your presentation? 
      4. What type of audience analysis focuses on audience attitudes, beliefs and values?
      5. The US Census gives us which types of audience analysis?

      Discussion Questions

      1. Should you ever discuss controversial topics with your audience? 
      2. If you’re speaking to a college classroom what are the major factors that make students different?  What are the common factors?
      3. I want to start a community garden in my neighborhood.  Who should I pull together for a focus group?
      4. Are you a captive or voluntary audience?  How does that affect my presentation today?
      5. Describe a situation when you felt the speaker failed at audience analysis.  How interested were you in the presentation?  How did it make you feel?