Tuesday, July 04, 2006

How To Reach An Audience

To Reach an audience, you have to know how to choose the right target audience, the right medium, and the right message. You can’t communicate with everyone in the world. Great communicators know how to direct their messages toward an audience they can realistically expect to reach, whether that audience is a roomful of people or a single employee.

Here are five questions that will help you find the right audience:

1. What do you want to do? Be specific about what you want to accomplish. If you have a fuzzy message or unclear goals, you won’t have a logical audience to target.

2. Who can help you get it done? Communicate with the audience that can help you do what you want to do. If you need your television fixed, don’t bother telling the entire neighborhood. The only audience you should be communicating with is the person who sold you the television.

3. Who would want to help you do it? People do things for their reasons, not yours. Look for an audience that has a strong reason to help you.

4. Why would an audience listen to you? The information age constantly bombards people with messages. Why should they listen to yours? Reasons include your position of authority, your knowledge of the topic, or your eloquence.

5. How accessible is this audience? If you run a convenience store, an ad in a large metropolitan daily newspaper is not going to do you much good: Most of the audience is out of your reach. However, if the paper has the regional edition for your area, an advertisement in that edition would reach an accessible audience.

After you’ve narrowed down your choice of audience through these five questions. Now you have to evaluate your choices to find the ideal audience. Your ideal audience should have the power or authority to do what you want it to do. For example, if you want a raise, you need to talk to the person who has the authority to give it to you.

You need to choose the right medium to convey your message. Each medium has its strengths and weaknesses. Use the medium whose strengths match the requirements of your message. For example, if your message relies on visual impact, don’t try to convey it by radio. If your message is complex, don’t try short audiovisual advertisement spots. It would be better to convey it through the print media.

Perhaps the best way to convey your particular message is through public speaking. For example, if you’re a developer and you are looking for public support to build a shopping mall, a public presentation would be more effective than a newspaper advertisement with pretty pictures of the mall.

Whatever medium you decide to use, take your time in deciding how you will use it. Make your presentation attractive. For example, if you’re speaking publicly, don’t show up in old wrinkled clothes and uncombed hair. Don’t send out a brochure with a hard-to-read type jammed tightly onto pages of cheap paper, or make a DVD with shaky images in a dull setting.

Timing and the length of your presentation are critical to your success. For example, if you’re selling Christmas cards, don’t send out your catalog on December 10th. If you’re presentation is too long, you’ll lose your audience, whether your presentation is a three-hour speech or a twenty-five page brochure.

Once you have a target audience in mind and have selected the right medium, the next step is to present your message in the most appealing and effective way. The first thing you must do, is choose your subject carefully. The right subject will be one that addresses the needs and wants of the audience. If you can identify those needs and wants and convince the audience that what you propose will satisfy them, you will get the response you want.

For example, if you want to motivate your sales force, you might want to talk to them about making money and beating the competition, two very powerful motivating topics for salespeople.

The more you know about the subject, the better your presentation will be. Always stick to the subjects you know well and be prepared to back up your statements with carefully researched data.

The best way to do your research for a presentation is to cast a broad net, collecting all the statistics, examples, and other data you can get your hands on. Then narrow down the information and use the materials that will support your “unique selling proposition” or USP. This is the core proposal that convinces the audience to do what you want them to do.

Whether you’re trying to make a sale, inspire greater productivity, or propose marriage always look for the unique selling proposition, and use the materials that back up your unique selling proposition the best.

You can have the right audience, the right medium, and compelling facts, but if your message is not organized correctly it will fall flat. Your message needs to have three main parts:

1. An introduction. An introduction is the main attention getter. You will never be able to communicate if you cannot grab your audience’s attention. The introduction should lead into the main body of the talk.

2. The main body. The main body of communication presents the most compelling point. The most effective way to do this is to subcategorize the main body into three parts, one part presenting your compelling point, and the other two parts setting it up or explaining it.

3. The conclusion. A good conclusion reinforces what you have said. Summarize the main points briefly, distilling your message into three or four short, memorable sentences. Your conclusion should invite the audience the act. Your message isn’t complete until you’ve told people precisely and persuasively what you want them to do.

Finally, a conclusion should inspire your audience. It is always effective to end with a challenging question, a glowing promise, or a strong statement of your most compelling point.

The purpose of communication is to make things happen. If nothing happens as a result of your speech, letter, or presentation, then you have failed. You should judge the success of your message by looking at both the short-term and long-term results.

In a short-term success, the audience enjoys the presentation and understands the point you are making. A long-term success moves the audience to take the action you want them to take.

Technology helps us communicate messages faster and to a larger audience than every before. But technology does not create the message. Communication is still a human activity, having to do with meanings, understandings, feelings, needs, and ideas.

Copyright©2006 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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