Successful writing requires writers to know their audience. The audience of any literary material refers to potential or intended reader(s). When planning to write or review articles, writers must demonstrate cognitive maturation. When writing a piece of article or excerpt, authors should deviate from expressing personal opinions as it makes them subjective. Instead, they should be open minded and outgoing such as to consider other people’s perspectives. After identifying a topic or subject of discussion, writers should develop audience-related goals. By so doing, they can narrow the gap between them and their audience. However, the success of this step requires a writer to understand the needs and interests of their readers. Such insights would help them frame their work according to the expectations of their target readers. Understanding the audience has fourfold merits. Firstly, it allows writers to make decisions about the kind of details they should include. Secondly, it informs them how to articulate their facts. Thirdly, they can know more about the supporting information that would be indispensable for the audience to interpret the message they are presenting. Finally, knowing the audience enables a writer to create a document that has a tone and a structure that appeals to the final consumer of the information. Thus, to develop a cogent argument, a writer must use all means possible to capture the attention of the audience and most importantly, she or he must develop opinions from an objective point of view.
Types of Audience
Writers can be students or individuals who have specialized in writing various kinds of documents in the real world. Often, such people have the liberty to choose an audience that suits their topics of study. Depending on the nature of the article, an article or publication may be directed towards a group of people or the general public (Ede 295). Nevertheless, regardless of the audience type, authors must always ensure that they use a tone and structure that facilitate the transfer of information from them to the reader.
How to Appeal to Different Audiences through Writing
When creating formal publications like newspapers and magazines, writers must place great emphasis on the audience (the entire academic fraternity). Appealing to such a dynamic population often presents significant challenges to student writers. When writing newspapers, writers address a group of individuals with differing demographic details (Ede, 295). For instance, they have to produce contents that appeal to people with diverse backgrounds in terms of income, age, gender, marital status and political affiliations just to enumerate a few. In such instances, writers should indulge in “purpose-oriented analysis.” Under this analysis, a writer does not have to gather information about the audience based on a predetermined formula. Instead, they collect such details depending on their needs as they decide on the content and desired outcome of their message. According to Ede (295), every time students write about a particular subject, they present their opinions to third parties including their instructors and the general public.
Furthermore, when addressing a generalized audience, writers need to understand that many people can access their articles. For instance, all stakeholders in the field of education can see a school magazine. These include parents, students, principle, teachers and non-teaching staffs among others. Since such reports are formal, writers must ensure that they use polite and official language. Additionally, the magazine should be designed in such a way that it has sections that address the desires of the several types of audiences. The writer can create headings and introductory sections that attract the audience attention in addition to helping them navigate through the document (Ede, 295). When writing, authors should find a proper medium of publication, which will ensure that their work reaches the intended audience. Some publishers usually distort the message or publish only parts that are relevant or beneficial to their interests as opposed to passing the author’s message.
Employees as Audience
Employees in an organization can also act as audience. Traditionally, firms deploy different strategies to improve their bottom line. These range from employing robust promotional activities to employee training and development. For instance, when trying to improve corporate performance through advertisements, companies use phrases that tend to appeal to potential customers (Celsi and Mary, 522). The effectiveness of such ads, however, depends on the content. The content is crucial in ensuring that companies send information that would increase their customer base. In many marketing campaigns (brochures, radio and television ads), many companies portray themselves as reliant and value oriented. As much as this information is what the consumers want to hear, it can have a negligible effect on the market if the employees are not incorporated as the internal audience. According to Celsi and Mary (523), advertisements should consider the interests of the target audience for them to add any value to the company. The term effectiveness refers to whether the workers believe the advert would improve sales and gain consumer attention. According to the persuasion knowledge model (PKM), readers of ads (audience) often use the little knowledge they have about marketing to establish the effectiveness and persuasiveness of advertisements (Celsi and Mary, 523). Employees as internal readers could help their companies to evaluate their ads since they play a crucial role in the realization of organizational goals. Celesi and Mary further indicate that employees are beneficiaries of successful adverts, which implies that they are likely to invest more time in developing ads that suit the organization’s interests (Celsi and Mary, 523).
When writing brochures for training and development programs, writers must consider various factors about their employees. These include the information they already have and their expectations. For this goal to be realized, organizations must conduct training need assessment to establish the strengths and weaknesses of their employees (Berkenkotter 391). The pamphlet should focus more on areas that need improvement (information they lack) as well as provide information that the employees expect from the organization including incentives, channels of promotions and praises where necessary. Writers should identify topics and then proceed to give a message that rhymes with the expectations of their audience (Berkenkotter 391).
Educators as Audience
Teachers can play two primary roles in writing. First, they can give students specific situations that range from simple problems to cases that are more complex. In other words, they can provide students with topics (both easy and challenging) that have a clear audience and defined situations. In such instances, the writer would be required to gather information (statistics and other relevant data) that address specific aspects of the rhetorical situation (Ede, 294). Secondly, they can allow students to create their contexts and rhetorical situations. Ede encourages students to “create their own context, their own rhetorical situation” (p. 294). Students would understand why they are writing, their audience, the occasion, their purpose, means of communication and the constraints associated with writing. This would allow the learners to think critically about their rhetorical situation and maintain focus on their audience in the writing process (Ede, 294). Thus, research students need to describe their rhetorical situations in detail to make their papers appeal to their teachers.
In colleges and universities, the instructors are the audience and students are the writers. Traditionally, students must present papers that match the guidelines provided to them by their lecturers. In any learning institution, educators have access to reliable sources of information as opposed to students. Thus, the learners must complete their assignments in a way that shows they have understood the concepts that were taught in class. Assignments are usually given to test student’s understanding of certain concepts. However, the objective is usually to prompt students to conduct further research and expand their knowledge base (Flower, 140).In other words, lecturers give students assignments to teach them some new concepts. In such instances, the primary goal of the test is to help a student to establish a connection between historical and present events. They may also enable them to understand the applicability of the acquired knowledge in real-world situations (Flower, 140). Moreover, the purpose of such papers is to provide students with a platform to discover emerging trends or support their stand on particular issues.
Students must write articles that meet the goals of their audience (lecturers). Flower (141) said that college students should not just create papers that show how excellent they are in rehearsing facts. They need to draft reports that show the educators that they have acquired the skills they were taught. According to Flower (141), “Effective writers are not simply expressing what they know, like a student madly filling up an examination bluebook. Instead they are using their knowledge: reorganizing, maybe even rethinking their ideas to meet the demands of an assignment or the needs of their reader.” Most professors are satisfied with students who submit papers that demonstrate thorough research supported through in-text citations and a deep understanding of the taught concepts. At the secondary level, teachers usually use such assignments to measure students’ ability to synthesize the acquired knowledge (Flower, 142).
Students as Audience
In many instances, English teachers play the writers role while their students become the audience. Regularly, English teachers write articles that attempt to improve students’ literacy skills in addition to inspiring them to become professionals in this field. Educators can use different approaches to achieve this goal (Flower 140). Teachers could capture the attention of their audience using persuasive, informative or personal narratives. The strategy deployed must meet the expectations of the audience, which in this case are the students. While different authors may have varied opinions about a given topic or subject, the objective is to ensure that the audience understand the concepts presented. According to Flower (140), differences in author perspectives can be categorized into the readers “knowledge about the topic”, “attitude” and “personal or professional needs.”
The objectivity of any piece of writing should effectively develop arguments based on the understanding that the audience comprehend these concepts in different ways. In other words, they should themselves questions on behalf of their readers. In the process, they end up being the first audience of their work (Flower, 140). The author also shows that professional writers revise their work continuously to ensure that they reduce the knowledge gap between them and their audience (Long 224). An article by Berkenkotter (391) shares a story of Toby F, an English teacher used an audience-related approach to motivate his learners to become language experts. He tried to ascertain what the high school seniors (his audience) wanted to hear. This was a difficult decision to make since some of his readers wanted to major in English while others were not interested in furthering their studies in this subject Berkenkotter (394). However, concluded that they all want to have insight into what language teachers do.
Toby developed a plan based on the needs of his students and their personal needs towards English. Berkenkotter’s article was about Mr. Toby and his experiences as an English teacher. Toby’s decision to use a personal narrative was productive since his audience was receptive to his message. However, in the same study Berkenkotter (392) found out that persuasive story has the highest frequency (95.70) and distribution of audience-oriented activities (14.70). Informative and personal narratives had 46.70 and 23.75 respectively on frequency and 12.00 and 7.50 respectively on distribution (Berkenkotter, 392). Berkenkotter concluded that recent studies on cognitive psychology can explain such tendencies. Professional in various fields tend to store scripts in their long-term memories and use them to solve different problems (Berkenkotter, 393). In other words, this implies that professional writers vary their approach depending on the situation at hand. Thus, no strategy is superior to the other.
Students can also be the audience of their classmates. In learning institutions, educators usually deploy different strategies to achieve learning. Some use group works where students are assigned topics that they must present in writing (Long 225). In such instances, a student (s) would be required to conduct research and develop articles that they can share with their classmates. In this case, the learners have almost similar demographic details, level of education, and prior knowledge on the specified topic. Therefore, the other students expect their classmate to present facts according to their level of understanding. The language, in this case, is less complicated and specific to the context (Long 225). Besides, since the knowledge and attitude gap is narrow, the student has less work when it comes to persuading the audience to share his or her point of view.
Management as Audience
In the workplace, an individual might have to present facts to the leadership to offer solutions to corporate problems. The administration constitutes people with excellent cognitive abilities. This shows that there is a significant knowledge gap between people who occupy lower levels in organizational structure and those in top positions. In such situation, the person must first analyze the needs (expectations), attitude, and knowledge of the audience (management). In instances where authors realize that the knowledge gap with their audience is considerable, they usually try to sway the understanding of the audience (Flower, 140). The leadership expects to find a person who would solve the problem they are experiencing in the company. Therefore, successful writers often demonstrate a strong ability to use their knowledge to meet the needs of their reader the audience. For instance, a program producer in a television station may spend substantial time in planning new shows, scheduling programs and contacting guests. However, when writing a program proposal to the top leadership of the station, the person must show how the proposed program address scheduling issues, influences the image of the station and its cost implications among others (Flower, 140). Such demands change a person from being a producer to a proposal writer. Traditionally, the management needs such information prior to making a decision. Thus, an expert writer would include all the necessary information that would persuade the top leadership to implement the proposed plan.
Various categories of audience exist but regardless of the differences, authors must embrace writing strategies and structures that make their documents appeal to their target audience. Four inferences could be made from this study. Professional writers must establish the relationship between them and their readers. A person occupying higher position could communicate more authoritatively when addressing their audience through various written materials such as memos. On the contrary, a person corresponding to a superior individual through writing uses a respectful and polite language when addressing the reader.Second, expert writers conduct an assessment to establish the level of insight their audiences have in a particular area. That allows them to determine the amount of information to provide, the terminologies to use as well as what data needs to be omitted in their articles. Third, successful writers try to establish the attitude of their audience. Specifically, they try to understand whether their audience would agree with them or not. As this article has shown, having such details is crucial to writers since they can develop plans that could persuade the audience to agree with them. Fourth, most college and university assignment requires students to address an audience that already understand the topic vividly. In such instances, writers need to show that they have understood and could apply the concepts gained to create new insights. Finally, writers must understand what their audience would do with the information they provide. The information presented by authors could help in decision-making. If that is the case, the writer must give sufficient information for the audience to take action. Therefore, successful writers identify their audience and find the best ways of attracting their attention.
Berkenkotter, Carol. "Understanding a writer's awareness of audience." College Composition and communication, vol. 32, no.4, 1981, pp. 388-399.
Celsi, Wolfinbarger, M., and Mary, Gilly, C. "Employees as internal audience: how advertising affects employees’ customer focus." Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 38.4 (2010): 520-529.
Ede, Lisa S. "On audience and composition." College Composition and Communication, vol. 30, no.3, 1979, 291-295.
Flower, Linda. "Writing for an Audience." Language awareness: Readings for college writers, 2000, pp. 139-141.
Long, Russell C. "Writer-audience relationships: Analysis or invention?." College Composition and Communication, vol. 31, no.2, 1980, pp. 221-226.