How Audience Decide
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Tariq A. Malik
Extra Credit Assignment
Chapter 1&2 Discussion Questions (“How Audiences Decide”)
Discussion Questions for Chapter 1
1. What is Chapter 1s main point?
The main point in this chapter was the importance and effectiveness of knowing the decision criteria of your audience. Expert audience members already know what information they need to make an informed decision and usually prefer presenters not cover anything unrelated to their decision criteria. In some cases, the decision criteria can be extremely specific. This “mental checklist” is very useful information to the communicator so he covers the information the expert audience needs and expects. An expert audience member has formed his decision criteria by repeatedly making the same type of decision. As a result, the presenter is more likely to persuade the expert audience member into making the desired decision. An example of this might be an investor talking to a fund manager. The investor might have a very specific checklist as to what information he needs to decide whether to invest. For instance, he might require hearing specific financial ratios – return on equity, return on investment, risk profile, etc. Knowing your audiences decision criteria with an expert audience is so important that oftentimes, presenters will look to discover the audiences decision criteria through market research, and techniques like the Multi-Attribute Utility Analysis and the Analytical Hierarchy Process. In addition, an expert audience member might appreciate the presenter using specific benchmarks (i.e. S&P 500). This type of comparative data will help the expert audience member make an informed decision. This together with the expert audience members mental checklist will form the decision schemata, a grid detailing their decision making process. In total, Chapter 1 explains the importance of knowing your audience, understanding their decision making process and decision criteria, what benchmarks they prefer to use, and other such useful information. Armed with this information, the presenter will be far more effective in getting the desired decision because he can now highlight what the expert audience member deems essential information.
2. In what ways does the chapter challenge common assumptions about effective communication?
It is commonly assumed that one should view their audience as empty cups waiting to be filled by the communicator. However, this is not the case. In many cases, the audience member is an expert at making certain types of decision and thus, is not an empty cup waiting to be filled. Instead, the audience member is an expert at a certain type of decision and knows exactly what information he needs in order to make a good decision. When expert audience members make a decision as a group, it is a common assumption that this process will be more effective in making an informed decision, as each expert audience members decision criteria is considered and evaluated. Nevertheless, this is not the case. Expert audience members that decide as a group usually make an inferior decision because of the majority/plurality rule which has been observed and demonstrates that these majorities are not always the most knowledgeable members and thus, win most of the time. An expert audience member in the group might make a better decision than the groups decision because of the decision criteria being used. Also, some might assume that an expert audience member who is extremely experienced in making a certain type of decision is the most likely way to make a good decision. However, it has been observed that linear and bootstrapped models make superior decisions than individual expert audience members. This is because expert audience members each have their own decision criteria and weigh each one differently. As a result, there is inconsistency in the decision making process.
3. What benchmarks are mentioned in the “Revised Executive Summary of a Business Plan” on pages 14-16? Would the revision have benefited from the addition of more benchmark information? Please explain.
The Revised Summary of Business Plan does an effective job of editing the executive summary by strongly emphasizing the investors decision criteria. In this particular case, the entrepreneur did not provide certain benchmarks that might be useful. First, the product “Smartphone MBA” is an educational subscription service delivered via smartphones and targeting potential, current, and former MBA students. Because the company is the first of its kind, the entrepreneur did not provide comparative information like competitors in the product category. The expert audience member in this case has his own benchmarks in his decision criteria and does not request this type of information from the entrepreneur. The expert audience member will compare this ventures profit potential with other investments (i.e. Investing in a mutual fund will earn 12-13% per year).However, the expert audience member is hoping to make at least 20% per year if he decides to invest in this venture. Also, the investor is making the decision to invest or not. Therefore, not investing in the venture is the status quo, and can be considered a benchmark because it is an alternative to investing.
In my opinion, the revision would have benefitted by using some benchmarks. Even though the investor did not ask for benchmarks and as listed above, uses his own benchmarks in his decision criteria, adding benchmarks to the revision can be extremely persuasive. For instance, he could use examples of other educational subscription services that are delivered via smartphone and the show the performance of those ventures, assuming the performance is attractive. Another example might be to compare this ventures profit potential to an educational subscription service targeted towards MBA students but not delivered via smartphone. This demonstrates the size and potential of the product category and will be useful information for the investor, even though he might not know it.
4. Compared to other graduate-level textbooks you have read, this chapter was (indicate one):
a. Easier to understand
b. About average
c. Harder to understand
In my opinion, this chapter is (A) Easier to understand than other graduate level books. Most graduate level books we are currently using are more technical and have a textbook-like format. While this chapter also has technical knowledge, it applies its lessons in real-world examples. This is the major reason the