Chapter 7: Language

Public Speaking Barriers

As a public speaker, all of these same barriers stand between you and your audience. You cannot be an effective speaker unless you know what to look for and minimize any suspected barriers to understanding. Know about your audience and your speaking environment. Professional speakers ask many questions about their potential audience size, age, gender, interests, and other information. They also want to know as much as possible about their speaking environment. Is it a classroom or an auditorium? Will I be on a raised platform or stage or at audience level? Will I need a microphone to be heard? The more you know about where you will speak, the better you will be able to predict the types of interference that may come between you and your listeners. You’re more likely to successfully minimize interference if you’ve given some thought to the barriers that you may encounter beforehand.

Don’t forget that audience analysis helps speakers in many ways; knowing your audience well can help you avoid many potential communication barriers from the start. For example, if you know that you have classmates in your audience who speak English as a second language, it would be especially important for you to consciously limit your use of idioms or workplace jargon as you speak. Many of those students only understand this second language from a formal perspective; they have not yet had a chance to focus on the informal parts of our language, such as slang, so much of your presentation could literally be incomprehensible to them.


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