You can go online and find a tremendous amount of information on any organization or association you might be speaking to. This is important in showing your personal interest in your audience. But actually visiting a facility, foundry, call center, or headquarters to have a good sense of what that audience will be like is far more effective.
Recently, a gentleman from Cairo, Egypt, answered an ad for free English lessons at our church. He is a student practicing pronunciation with my son-in-law. He will be in Cincinnati for six months, visiting the United States to learn to pronounce English more clearly. He has a daily English class for three hours and spends time conversing with people he meets to become more familiar with spoken English.
We probably would not go that far as speakers in learning our audiences’ languages. But we can learn anecdotal information we would probably not find on a website or in a company newsletter. Whether we talk to customers of the company we are speaking to, drive through the neighborhood where the organization is located, or have a lunch at a restaurant where members of the audience may eat, the personal touch will prove invaluable.
An axiom I use in interpersonal seminars is “There is no such thing as small talk.” Don’t be concerned with an agenda when you make personal contact; just remember that a casual conversation can lead to great information for your speech.