In-class exercise for audience adaptation

This is a longer exercise to illustrate the need for audience adaptation. Have students write a television commercial. The commercial will be for the same product, but will air during different television shows. Here’s how it works:

  • Divide class into four groups (or how ever many TV shows you wish to use).
  • Explain that they will write a commercial for a product for different TV shows.
  • Go over the elements they should include in the commercial:

  1. The target audience (who watches this show?)
  2. Spokesperson
  3. Theme song (or style of music)
  4. Setting
  5. Action
  6. Tagline
  • Give the product. I use cigarettes as the product and explain that it is because they’ve never seen a cigarette commercial and they will need to create something and not copy something, and that cigarettes have several aspects that can be referenced. For a more conservative class, I have used paperclips instead.
  • Give each group a TV show. These are the ones I use:
  1. Young and the Restless (or any soap opera)
  2. 60 minutes
  3. Monday Night Football (in fall) or March Madness tournament (in spring)
  4. American Idol
  • After they have finished, each group shares its target audience and explains its commercial. We compare how they are different, why they are different, and what values each commercial appeals to (cigarettes as sexy, relaxing, cool, etc.)
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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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