Know Your Audience

My last two posts were about words that have changed meaning or become totally obsolete. As an author and a story teller, I must choose my words carefully and consider the reader’s or listener’s understanding of my words.

When invited to speak, I ask questions of the meeting planner to learn as much about the audience as possible. Every group has its own nomenclature, words that its members use frequently in everyday language. Sometimes the geography, age, social status, vocation, or avocation determines how your audience perceives or understands what you say.

I enjoy telling humorous stories about cowboys, farmers, and ranchers. Growing up in a family that practiced agrarian pursuits. I have encountered many rural characters to tell stories about. I spoke to a group of Texas Cattlemen once. I started my talk by saying, “I did a sheep dipping and a goat roping on the way to their event.” It got a great laugh. I used the same line at a retailer convention the next week and only received blank stares. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

In my circle of friends, the expression “going to a sheep dipping and a goat roping” meant we had a big event to attend. I don’t know that I ever attended an organized sheep dipping or goat roping, but I and most farmers and ranchers know what the saying means. If you don’t, come back to my next post to find out.

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