Public Speaking: What Types of Listeners Are in Your Audience?
Just as people have different leadership styles and personality styles they also have different listening styles. Most groups you will speak to will be comprised of a sprinkling of all 4 styles. There are some audiences, however, that will be skewed to one style. Before you give your presentation think about the probable styles of the people who will be listening and make sure that you are meeting their listening styles.
The Drivers or Dominant listeners will often look at their watches. They are impatient and don’t want to hear a lot of background and fluff. Get straight to the point with them and be very careful to explain how they will benefit from what you are saying. They want to know if they can use what you are saying right now and if it’s practical. Don’t waste words with this group. Make sure you give them a major piece of relevant information immediately in your speech. If you don’t they will be emailing and texting right away.
Conscientious or Analytical listeners will sometimes look like they hate what you are saying, or disagree with you. What is really happening is that they are taking apart your speech as they are listening to it. They may seem puzzled or skeptical or nod their head at a particular point you make. They may rub their chins or wrinkle their brows. They want to hear some hard evidence and facts to support what you are saying.
The Amiable or Stable listeners will be rooting for you to do a good job. Their hearts will break if you drop your notes or are attacked by a hostile audience member. You will always be greeted with an encouraging smile when you glance their way. They respond well to personal stories. Use feeling words with them. Important points to them are loyalty, family and home.They will be very patient with you as you develop your points. They want to know how your topic affects the family and our society as a whole.
The Expressive or Influential listeners are easily bored. They like being part of the action and will fidget if you talk for too long, especially about statistics and technical data. They like to be involved and have a chance to speak. This type likes to get into small groups and discuss or have an opportunity to share their ideas. They want to get the big picture and then be given a chance to talk about it with others.
To meet the needs of all four styles in one audience you need the proper mixture of humor, stories, hard facts, practical strategies and an opportunity for questions and answers. After you’ve written an initial draft of your speech, look back and confirm that the needs of each group have been addressed.
If you have an audience heavily weighted to a particular group, make sure you take that into account when preparing your speech. You will need to focus on emphasizing the major expectations of this group.
Keep in mind that the audience mix has a great deal to do with the success of your speech. Most speakers don’t stop to think about it at all, so doing this will really make you stand out.