Table of Contents, Communication Secrets Resources Page Previous Section, Communication Secrets Next Section, Communication Secrets

Chapter 7: Assessing Your Audience

Overview

To me, a ballpark filled with people is a beautiful thing. It's an epitome, a work of art. I guess I have seen everything in the country: Yosemite, Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon, and the most beautiful thing is a ballpark filled with people. Ballparks should be happy places.

Bill Veeck
Pat Williams with Michael Weinreb, Marketing Your Dreams: Business and Life Lessons from Bill Veeck, Baseball's Marketing Genius (Champaign, Ill.: Sports Publishing, Inc., 2000), p. 2.

The executive had worked very hard on his presentation. He had been invited to be a guest speaker and receive an award for his services to the industry. It was a prestigious event.

So, as befit the occasion, the executive had collected his information; he had even hired a speechwriter to script the speech and a graphic services company to produce the visuals. He arrived early in the day to assess the room and even rehearsed on site. At the appointed hour, the executive was introduced, and he proudly took the podium. Looking out over the audience, he took a deep breath, smiled, and began his presentation. He was careful to note how proud he was to receive the award.

Everything proceeded well—for about 30 seconds. Then the audience began to grow restless, and after another minute or so it began a series of catcalls: "Come on. Hurry up. We're getting thirr—sty!" After another minute, individuals in the audience began to throw things. Bound and determined to be heard, the executive, like a St. Bernard in a snowstorm, plowed ahead. As the crowd grew more restless, he began to speak louder. When things hit the stage, he grew louder still, until after 3 minutes or so, he was shouting into the microphone.

Chaos ruled.

What went wrong? How could something that started so wonderfully and was prepared and rehearsed so carefully go so terribly wrong?

Simple. The executive had failed to assess his audience.

Not until later, when the speech was over and he had retreated to the safety of an anteroom, did the executive learn that he had been the only thing standing between the audience and the bar. It was the end of a long day, and the crowd of salespeople and industry representatives was in no mood for more talk. They wanted to "drown the day" with libations.


Table of Contents, Communication Secrets Resources Page Previous Section, Communication Secrets Next Section, Communication Secrets