Sun Tzu says, “Know thine enemy”. Here at Get Sandwich we say, “know thine audience”, while you shouldn’t think of your audience as an enemy, when making a speech, still a good idea, to have a plan of attack. This video will help you determine what kind of audience you have so that you can progress to the next stage and start thinking about what to do about it.

Because being able to anticipate the response your audience will have will help you when you start to plan the writing of your speeches and could be the factor that decides whether your jokes fall flat or that clever story that sounds so good in your head actually works or not.



The Receptive Audience

The first kind of audience, the receptive audience. They are eager to listen, open to your ideas and quite possibly on your side even before you step on to the stage.

They might be members of a club to which you belong where you are talking about something that interests them or co-workers and you are explaining how a new system works that will make your group’s lives easier. It could also be an audience that doesn’t know you but you are the first speaker of the day and they are alert and open to new ideas.

The key to identifying a receptive audience is that:

  • they are open to your ideas,
  • they have are willing to pay attention to you whilst you speak.


The Hostile Audience

The next kind of audience you might encounter: the hostile audience.

They might be the people you are responsible for at work as you explain a change that will cause uncertainty in their lives, or when you are speaking at a club or organisation where you are trying to persuade people of diff opinions on a sensitive topic about your views. They might be people who want answers regarding something that has gone wrong, something that quite possibly wasn’t your fault personally, but requires you to diffuse the situation.

So to summarise hostile audiences:

  • are not open to your ideas,
  • are possibly looking to find fault in what you say,
  • but crucially, they are keen to hear what you have to say, even if they are not interested in listening to you.


The Apathetic Audience

The third kind of audience is in some ways the hardest one: the apathetic audience.

They could have heard five speeches already today and whilst yours would otherwise be interesting for them, they just don’t have the attention to give you. Perhaps the topic just doesn’t seem relevant to them even if their managers think it is. Perhaps they have had bad experiences with public speakers before and automatically switch off in lectures.

Apathetic audiences can be characterised as so that:


  • the ideas being communicated rarely make it through to the listener because they aren’t paying attention,
  • they are neither receptive nor hostile but could potentially be either.


Which One Do You Have?

A good question to ask when trying to think about what kind of audience you will present to is:

When I step on to the stage and start speaking, do the audience want to hear what it is that I have to say?

If yes, then you have a receptive audience,
if no, then you have a hostile audience,
and if you think they won’t care, then you have an apathetic audience.