A constructive listener is supportive yet listens carefully and critically. Such listeners seek the value in all messages. Because the fate of a message depends on how listeners respond to it, the audience must be at the center of your thinking as you plan, prepare, and present your speeches. What needs or problems concern them? What subjects interest them? What biases could distort their reception of message? Such questions are crucial to the selection of your topic and to the way you frame your message. Moreover, you should be sensitive to the fact that your words could affect the lives of listeners and even their perception of themselves.
Listeners do not come to a speech with a blank slate. Their minds are filled with past experiences, information or misinformation about a topic or speaker, attitudes and values, aspirations and fears. All of these factors form the frame of reference that a listener brings to a speech. The better you understand these audience factors, the more effective your speech will be.