PSU Insight

Speak with Power and Passion

Know Your Audience's Names

As described in other Insights, it's important to know a lot about both the individual members of your audience and your audience as a group. But it's also important to know about the names of your audience.

There was once a popular singer on tour who told his audience "It's great to be here in Cleveland!" Unfortunately, he was in Chicago. His audience was not pleased.

The same thing could easily happen to you. If you're speaking out of town, know where you're speaking. Also, always know the correct name of the organization to which you’re speaking. There are few quicker ways to lose credibility than to use the wrong name of your audience’s organization. (I once knew a trainer who prepared a huge amount of printed materials for his client. He got the name of the company right, but it was misspelled. That wasn't a big deal so they paid him... but they never hired him again.)

But don't stop there. Know the correct pronunciation of the names of any people, organizations, or places that you may mention in your talk. If necessary, write them out phonetically so you can be sure to pronounce them correctly. (For example, if you're talking about Sioux City, you might want to spell it out (for your eyes only, of course) as "Soo City" or "Sue City". Similarly, Worcester is pronounced "Wu stir".)