Knowing the Audience

… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

Concept description

Gary Orren identifies knowing the audience as the most important of the pathos (characteristics of audience) persuasion principles.

Orren emphasizes the psychological phenomena that cause people to underestimate the importance of learning about the audience: the power of predispositions, cognitive conservatism and confirmatory bias.

He underlines the importance of empathy and listening carefully, noting that:

“We typically know our audiences in a half-baked way. We need to use all available resources to know the audience.”

Resources, The Benefits of Understanding Your Audience, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Richard Atkins, Know Your Audience, Ladders, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Tom Ricci, Public Speaking: Know Your Audience, at, accessed 23 January 2016.

Marie Danziger, How Listeners Think, HKS Communications Program, at, accessed 23 January 2016.


Gary Orren, PowerPoint presentation in 2005 to the Mortgage Bankers Association, Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Communication, accessed 17 January 2016.

Normed topic and synthetic course with which the concept is primarily associated

This concept is primarily associated with the core normed topic Speaking to Persuade and is included in the synthetic course outline Atlas109 Leadership and Communication Skills.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 12 February 2016.

Image: City Campaigner, at, accessed 17 January 2016.