56Every time a salesperson gets ready to call on a client, a lawyer prepares to address a jury, a teacher plans a lecture, and you get ready to give a speech, social identities come into play. Successful salespeople, lawyers, teachers, and speakers know that effective public speaking, of course, is about informing, entertaining, or persuading listeners. But because public speaking, as we noted in Chapter 1, is an interactive process, it is about more than passing on materials orally to others. You as speaker assume a set of social roles, and so do listeners. You improve your chances of getting the desired response by tailoring your communication to your listeners—whether a client, a jury, or a classroom. Tailoring speeches to audiences involves managing both content and relationships. So, you must begin with audience analysis. And the core of audience analysis focuses on aspects of personal–social identities and the process of identification:

[I]dentity is the human capacity—rooted in language—to know “who’s who” (and hence “what’s what”). This involves knowing who we are, knowing who others are, them knowing who we are, us knowing who they think we are, and so on: a multi-dimensional classification or mapping of the human world and our places in it, as individuals and as members of collectivities… . It is a process—identification—not a “thing.” It is not something that one can have, or not; it is something that one does. 1