Analyzing and deciphering your audience is a crucial step in the writing process. An effective analysis will lead to a more personalized document with all the pertinent information rather than a bunch of extraneous padding that often results in an undefined audience. According to Air University (2009), there are four types of readers:
- General-Someone who has no specific experience in the area being written about and often is reading to be informed, persuaded, or entertained.
- Decision Maker-Most demanding and important reader who is looking for the "bottom line" information and conclusions.
- Operator-Those whose experience levels may vary and are looking for "how-to" or "step-by-step" wordings.
- Expert-Reader has formal education and is familiar with the area. Will require more data to support your ideas since the expert is very knowledgeable in the given field already.
Here are a few things to consider before you start writing to better understand your reader.
- Responsibilities of the reader
- Reader's predetermined point of view
- Audience's education/formal background
- Their experience
- Who is the primary reader (external/internal, superior/peer/subordinate)?
- Who are my secondary readers, if any? (Find out their level of expertise too!)
- What does my reader already know about my topic? (Eliminates the extraneous info that the reader could care less about. Keeps the writing on track rather than beating around the bush)
- What does the reader want and their main concerns?
- How will the reader use the information?
It is crucial in professional writing to always keep the reader in mind and that all effective communication is done by knowing as much as possible about the reader. The more you know the better off you will be and the writing process will flow much easier!Below is a short video discussing how to understand your audience in writing; although it says web writing the same tips can be applied to any form of communication.
Air University (2009). Writing and Editing Tips. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from the AU Website: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/writing_tips.htm
ULiveandLearn (2002-2007). Business Writing Tips from The Writing Center. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from the iContact website: http://community.icontact.com/p/uliveandlearn/newsletters/biztips/posts/business-writing-tips-from-uliveandlearn-analyze-your-audience
Youtube LLC (2009). Writing for the Web-Understanding Your Audience. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from the Youtube website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdiSvltMxPQ