Analyze the tasks and actions required to identify and relate to the audience of an oral presentation.

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It is a truism of business communications that the key to a successful oral presentation is identifying and relating to your audience. There are several components to this. You need to research your audience and then adjust different elements to suit their needs. Some of your main steps are:

  • Identify the rhetorical situation. Is it a formal presentation to an outside client or a more informal one to an internal audience? Will media be present? The more formal the rhetorical situation, the more structured and formal your presentation, and the less you should extemporize, use personal anecdotes, or attempt to introduce humor.
  • Find out whether the people to whom you are presenting are your peers, subordinates, or superiors? While you may want to emphasize affability and approachability when talking to peers or subordinates, presentation to superiors should be more formal.
  • What size is your audience? For larger audiences, you should project your main points on the screen, and make sure a summary is available in electronic format. Also, the larger the audience, in general the more formal the presentation.
  • What issues directly affect your audience? For example, if you are pitching an exercise program for seniors, extreme sports or prenatal exercises would be irrelevant, while an audience of college students wouldn't be interested in arthritis or osteoporosis.
  • What ethos would appeal to your audience? That of an expert? A peer?
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