Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

It’s important when you’re speaking to an audience to know who makes up the audience.

This is an elementary public speaking principle.

I’ve been speaking for years…in school, business and ministry.

I know the principle. Most of the time I obey the principle.

Recently, though, I missed this.

I spoke to a group of 4 year old children. I told them the story of David and Goliath. It is one of my favorite stories, one I enjoyed acting out with my boys when they were young.

The problem this time. I forgot my audience.

I told the “whole counsel of God”. I shared the whole story.

Remember the part at the end…what David does to Goliath? It’s my favorite part.

He cut his head off.

Yep, I shared it. To the 4 year old children. My audience.

Have you ever seen the bright eyes of surprise on a 4 year old?

Yep, I saw them.

Yep, I heard from the teachers too. No parents yet.

Here’s an elementary public speaking principle:

Know your audience.

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11 thoughts on “Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

  1. I love this! We sometimes get so caught up in the story, the point of the story, we just skip over a few, major, details!
    I was working in Arizona one summer. The Pastor I was with did the morning devotional for VBS, and in that lesson, he wanted to point out that Jesus was the Son of God and was therefore, powerful.
    Jesus was: the strongest,
    The smartest
    The biggest
    Etc
    Did very well, till he got to the summation! He left something out of his presentation but included it in the summation….the kids caught it.
    Laughlin, NV is a smaller version of Vegas, and was just across the river from where his Church is. Everyone in that area is somehow conected to Laughlin! Every paycheck in that part of the country, has his money in to some degree.
    In his summation, the Pastor went through the list. Who is the strongest? " Jesus!" Who is the smartesst? " Jesus!" Who is the richest? Without skipping a beat, the children all yelled, in unison, " Mr Laughlin!"
    Never should have forgotten who he was working with!
    Twitter: bryankr

  2. I will never forget our little girls/still small enough to be in reg. carseats, sobbing because the bad people nailed Jesus to the wooden cross. Nothing either of us could say could get that graphic picture out of their heads. Sometimes there are just better ways to get the point across without damaging their sensitive emotions. Makes speaking and teaching very touchy and challenging. Wishing the best to all who do so.

    • Yep, been a while since I had a 4 year old…and boys are much different than girls. They'll come out with some crazy stuff on their own :)

  3. That's just fantastic! The only thing that could make this story better is if you pulled a mannequin head out of your bag by its hair as a grande finale. Maybe next time. : )

  4. Bahahaha! Reminds me of when I was in graduate school and brought a mouse brain, sheep brain, and human brain (from the psych lab–they are just sitting there in jars) to my mom's first grade classroom for a talk I was giving on the brain. The kids were fine until I pulled out the human brain…much consternation! "Where did you get that brain? Is that your brain? Does that person know you have his brain? Did he give you permission to take his brain? Are you going to give him his brain back? Is someone going to take my brain?"

    Morale to the story: Keep your brains to yourself.

    • Ha! Funny. One time I was doing a talk on the heart…how powerful it is…need to protect…etc.I asked for a heart slide for the presentation. My tech guy gave me a picture of a heart alright…veins, blood and all. I was thinking Valentine!