Unless Your Grandma Cuts Your Hair, Listen Up

Understanding your audience is critical, no matter the context you are communicating. A peer level audience provides you with much more flexibility does an executive audience, where you must be the agile presenter and facilitator of information. You can say to a colleague, “Let’s discuss that topic ‘off line’ whereas, suggesting your key decision maker is off topic would be a CLM (career limiting move). Understanding what your audience expects from the interaction is paramount. Anticipating what your audience needs from you in order to make the next decision or advance a process forward is an imperative question to ask yourself. Just as you are a unique individual, so is the person or people you are addressing. Adaptation is key. Ask yourself this: “Do I speak the same way to my grandmother as I do my hairdresser?” Of course you don’t, unless your grandma cuts your hair. It is important to assess who your audience is and how they like their information. Are they data driven or story driven? What is their position on your topic? What do they already know and what would surprise them to know? When you are in an Interpersonal situation, you should consider the person’s attitude, priorities, level of relational commitment, how much time they have for you, etc. In both public and interpersonal contexts we need to consider culture, experience, and environmental factors before we communicate. These variables will play a significant role in determining whether we connect with our audience how they need to be reached.