Creativity in Relating to Your Audience

What often separates the good speaker from the exceptional speaker is how he or she adapts to the audience. I’ve seen unique ways in which speakers have done this. One speaker took a photograph of the building the audience was in and used it to talk about how to determine the value of a building as a piece of real estate. Another speaker took several photographs of people during the social hour and used them to connect to some of the applications in her speech.

One of my favorite all-time examples, though, is from one of my students who wrote a class limerick for her final assignment of the semester. In this advanced public speaking course, we had listened to students give four speeches each over the l5 weeks. This young woman had taken careful notes in developing background on each person as he or she revealed personal information during the course of the semester. For her final speech, she gave an account of the class in rhyme. Here is an example.

As much time has come to pass,
I’ve learned a lot about those in this class.
They began to unravel—
Like we know not to travel
With Shelli, the European lass.

If for a good meal your stomach does churn,
For food, you’ll continue to yearn,
If Leslie or Brian cooks,
You’d better give them a book,
Or ask Stephanie since she did learn.

We know Casey is a good mother,
And Jennifer is an Elvis lover.
Vania’s accent’s not fake,
Kyle  was lost in a lake,
And Beck B. tells jokes like no other.

And this pattern continued on throughout her presentation. She related to her audience because we were the heart and soul of the presentation.

Before speaking to a group of sales reps, I’ve found it helpful to ride with one of them to visit clients. Both conversation and observation help me to adapt to that audience.

Think about what special skills you have that would help you uniquely identify with the audience. This might be the key that helps you to compete successfully in the marketplace.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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