an audience of…

… people who have agreed to (come and) listen to whatever it is you have to say; to whatever it is you want to tell them.

What does it mean to be an audience?

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes ‘audience’ as:

  • hearing; attention to what is spoken
  • judicial hearing
  • formal interview, esp. with a monarch or a member of government. (Foll. by of, with.)
  • persons within hearing; an assembly of listeners.

An assembly of listeners, an individual or group of people who have agreed to hear and to listen to whatever it is you want to say.

When you have an audience with a member of government, head of state, the pope or a monarch, a room may be set aside and designated an ‘audience chamber’. A place where those attending the ‘chamber’ agree to being an audience.

A place where people gather to listen.

To ensure you maximise their willingness to ‘be an audience’ (to hear; to listen) it is important that as the performer (communicator of the message) you tell them what they want to hear about what you want to tell them. Because if you don’t, they won’t be an audience. They have come because you have something to say they want to hear, and as the performer, the onus is on you to work out what that is.

Who is your audience in an oral communication performance? 

They are an individual or group of people who, knowing you or your topic, have agreed to come and to hear1 and in coming they have agreed to listen2

Put yourself in their place and ask, ‘what would you want to hear, about what it is you are about to tell them, that you don’t already know?

An audience to an oral communication performance are looking for more than simply words they have heard before. They want more from you than what they already know.


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  1. hear – perceive with the ear (a sound etc., someone or something..)
  2. listen – [noun] the action or act of listening; a spell of listening or attentive hearing. [verb-trans] pay attention to (a person speaking or some utterance); [verb-intrans] make an effort to hear something; pay head to , yield to a temptation or request

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