The field of communications is vast with many different facets, and this semester many theories were studied and analyzed in class. Three specific concepts that were particularly prominent to me that worked cohesively were the concept of audience analysis, the concept of persuasion, and the Muted Group Theory.
The reason these concepts are well connected is because they all have the central idea of recognizing and understanding different groups of people, then using the knowledge you gain to improve your methods of communication.
The first concept covered was audience analysis. This was explained in great detail in chapter six of the textbook, and I found it to be not only interesting, but also extremely important. Knowing who you are talking to in any situation is absolutely vital because you must prepare your speech in ways that will be meaningful to your audience. If you do not take into account the audience's feelings towards the topic, the occasion, the demographics, and the diversity of the people it will result in a poorly prepared speech that will not convey the message it is intended to.
When analyzing an audience it is essential to gain information on the age, ethnic or cultural background, socioeconomic status, religion, political affiliation, and gender of the people you will be speaking to so you can properly tailor your speech to the specific audience. Failure to do so can result in insulting people or coming across as grossly undereducated and unprepared.
Next was the discussion leader presentation that discussed the Muted Group Theory, which I found to be one of the most fascinating things we learned about all semester. The theory really stuck out to me because, as a woman, it resonated very strongly with me because I have witnessed many of the situations it discusses first-hand. This theory ties in well with the audience analysis portion of the class because it is a perfect example of why knowing your audience is so important. In the article that discusses Muted Group Theory it is said that muted groups are "black holes in someone else's universe". That statement is extremely powerful, because it completely sums up why muted groups are such a big issue. Members of a muted group are "overlooked, muffled, and rendered invisible" by those who are considered to be a "higher status" and it is unacceptable. When someone is giving a speech, or just communicating in general, it is their responsibility to take caution not to further the muted group problem that plagues society today. Through careful analyzation of the audience before the speech is given, that mistake can be avoided. That is a small but important step in the right direction for ending the issue of muted groups.
The Muted Group Theory states that language is a "man-made construction" that aids in defining, depreciating, and excluding women. Women's words are often discounted in today's society as a result, and the masculine control of communication places them at a distinct disadvantage. However, women are not the only muted group; minorities often fall under this umbrella as well because any group that is viewed as being a "lower status" will be muted more often than not, because their words are not considered to be as valuable as those of the perceived "higher status" people in society.
The third and final concept being discussing is the concept of persuasion. There were two class periods dedicated to this topic, which means an enormous amount of great information was presented about persuasion and the different theories surrounding it. One of the biggest topics discussed within this concept was the use of persuasion in advertising and everyday communication.
In the article titled "Identifying Major Techniques of Persuasion" by Vivian Parker Makosky, she discusses three big strategies in the art of persuasion. The first is social suggestion, which is essentially a fancy word for peer pressure. It utilizes the power of people's desire to fit in to sell products. Basically, you should buy this product because everybody else has it. The next technique is prestige suggestion, which uses powerful, prestigious, and admired people to sell products. This is what advertisers use when they have a celebrity sponsor for their product. The third major strategy is the use of loaded words and images. This technique is extremely subtle in that it uses buzzwords and specific situations to sell their products to people. Most consumers are affected by this type of persuasion without even realizing it.
Persuasion is very important to think about when giving a speech, because a large part of the purpose of a speech is to persuade the audience to listen to, and hopefully agree with, whatever stance is being taken on the topic. The art of persuasion is a good skill to have, and one that can be utilized in many different facets of a person's life.
These three skills are connected because the concept of audience analysis allows a speaker to be well informed about the demographics and opinions of the audience so they can write the speech in a way that will resonate with the audience. It allows the speaker to write their speech from an audience-centered perspective, which makes their work more meaningful for those specific people. With this new perspective, the speaker can help avoid making muted groups feel like they are being ostracized. Muted groups are people who are overlooked, treated poorly, and are practically invisible to groups that are believed to be of higher status or power. Audience analysis helps prevent a speaker from making these muted groups feel even more marginalized. Lastly, persuasion is connected to the other two concepts because it deals heavily with the process of communicating with people in a way that is tailored to them. When you are trying to persuade a person to share your views or buy a product, you must communicate with them in a way that is specific to both the situation and the person. This is very important when doing audience analysis and when confronting the issue of muted groups. While all groups are marginalized, they are not marginalized in the same way or for the same reason. Every case is unique and needs its own personal solution. The same goes for audience analysis. It is important to learn about each specific audience so that the speech will reach them in the best way possible so the audience will be more receptive to your message. Overall, all three of these concepts focus on personalizing communication to the situation and the person. When quality research is done, and the proper steps are taken to address the audience in the best way possible, the speaker can then use the right persuasion techniques to create a great form of communication that can bring people together from all different backgrounds to discuss one common idea or theme. That is a very powerful tool that I think makes these three concepts extremely important because they highlight all the right skills needed to be a successful communicator.
These concepts were important in our class this year because they were all fairly new to me. I had never considered my audience before when writing a speech for school, I always just wrote what I wanted to say without thinking about what the audience would want to hear. Learning about audience analysis changed that, especially when working on the client project. We had to tailor our presentation to the audience; whether that be our classmates, the client, or a large group at the festival day. It was a great skill to learn and being able to practice it throughout the semester will be beneficial in the future because I will know how to use it. Learning about muted groups was very interesting because I had never heard of the Muted Group Theory, but it is a very important concept that more people should know about. It educates people on the reality of what it is like to be in a marginalized group and it opens up dialogue about possible solutions, which I think is fantastic. I think it was good to learn about in this class because it was a great environment to talk about something that can be controversial, and it taught everybody good communication skills, like how to talk about touchy subjects in a civilized manner. Lastly, learning about persuasion was very applicable for our client projects because we worked on promotional material and various other aspects of the organizations in order to help shape their brand and make their name better known. Persuasion is important in work like that because you are essentially persuading people into learning about the organization as well as convincing them to become a part of it. Overall, all three concepts were very applicable to this course and I think learning about them will be very beneficial in the future.