Chapter 2
Meeting the Needs
of Specific Audiences
Technical Communication,
13th Edition
John M. Lannon
Laura J. Gurak

Cop...
Learning Objectives
 Understand the key concepts of “audience”

and “purpose”
 Picture exactly who will use your documen...
Learning Objectives (continued)
 Identify the length, format, tone, and other

qualities your audience prefers
 Understa...
Audience
All technical communication is intended for a
specific audience. Before writing, identify
precisely who will be r...
Analyze Your Document’s
Audience and Purpose
Explore all you can about who will use your
document, why they will use it, a...
Analyze Your Document’s
Audience and Purpose (continued)




Do these readers have varying levels of expertise?
What cu...
Primary and Secondary Audience
When writing a technical document, keep two
audiences in mind.
Primary Audience: The immed...
Your Relationship to Your Readers
Consider the following when you assess audience:
Are they superiors, colleagues or subo...
Purpose of Your Document
Spell out precisely what you want your document
to accomplish and how you expect readers to use
i...
Primary and Secondary Purpose
All documents have a primary purpose and a
secondary purpose:
Primary purpose: The document...
Intended Use of the Document
Also consider how and why a document will be
used by others:
Do my readers simply want to le...
Assess Your Audience’s
Technical Background
Decide whether your document should be highly
technical, semitechnical, or non...
Identify the Audience’s
Cultural Background
Consider how cultural differences might create
misunderstanding in any situati...
Anticipate Your
Audience’s Preferences
Readers approach any document with certain
preferences:
Length and details: Do the...
Anticipate Your Audience’s
Preferences (continued)
 Due date and timing: Is there a deadline? How can

you break down the...
Develop an Audience and
Use Profile
In order to focus sharply on your audience,
purpose, and the many factors discussed in...
Check Your Document
for Usability
A usable document is safe, dependable, and
easy to read and navigate. A usable document
...
Review Questions
1. What is the definition of audience?
2. What is the difference between a primary
audience and a seconda...
Review Questions (continued)
6. What do the three types of technical
audience’s want?
7. What are three areas you need to ...
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Chapter 2: Meeting the Needs of Specific Audiences

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ENG-2050 Chapter 2

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  • Analyzing the audience is one of the most important (and elusive) skills students can
    develop. In the workplace and in school, inexperienced writers often are unaware of the
    need to adapt a message to their audience. In their simplistic view, writing is a linear task
    of transferring material from the brain to the page. Without a sense of their audience, writers
    write prematurely—and thus ineffectively.
    Spend some time on the “Assess the Audience's Technical Background” section (textbook
    pages 20–24), analyzing each sample to see how the level of technicality is adjusted to the
    audience’s expectations and needs. Students with traditional composition backgrounds
    need practice in thinking about their readers’ specific needs for clear and useful information.
    Tell students you will read and evaluate their writing as an employer or supervisor
    would—a decision maker who requires clear information, often translated from high to
    low technicality. (Here is where contract grading fits in: in the workplace, a product is
    unacceptable, acceptable, or superior.) Have students identify an audience and use for
    each assignment. You might want them to include a written audience and use analysis
    with each submission—especially for the earlier assignments.
    If you are unfamiliar with a particular specialty (such as computer science or electrical
    engineering), ask students planning long reports or proposals about these specialties to
    use you as the secondary reader, and to prepare the report text and supplements accordingly.
    For class discussion, ask students to describe situations in which they’ve had to explain
    something specialized to an uninformed audience (such as camp counselors, hobbyists,
    or part-time employees). Or ask them to describe situations in which school lectures
    have sailed over their heads, and to analyze the reasons.
  • Answers
    1. The people who will be reading and using a document.
    2. The primary audience is the immediate audience of readers, while the secondary audience is individuals outside the immediate audience.
    3. Purpose is what you want your document to accomplish.
    4. The document’s primary purpose is its main purpose—to inform, to instruct, or to persuade. The secondary purpose is what else the document should do.
    5. Highly technical, semitechnical, and nontechnical.
  • Answers (continued)
    6. Highly technical—just facts and figures; semitechnical—facts and figures explained; nontechnical—facts and figures explained in the simplest terms.
    7. Being direct vs. being indirect; using a formal tone vs. using a friendly tone; prioritizing individual contributions vs. prioritizing group contributions
    8. Length and details, format and medium, tone, due date and timing, and budget.
    9. It helps you to focus sharply on your audience, purpose, and many factors about a document.
    10. A document that is safe, dependable, and easy to read and navigate.
  • Chapter 2: Meeting the Needs of Specific Audiences

    1. 1. Chapter 2 Meeting the Needs of Specific Audiences Technical Communication, 13th Edition John M. Lannon Laura J. Gurak Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    2. 2. Learning Objectives  Understand the key concepts of “audience” and “purpose”  Picture exactly who will use your document and why  Consider your audience’s technical background  Consider the audience’s cultural background  Pinpoint the needs and goals of your audience Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    3. 3. Learning Objectives (continued)  Identify the length, format, tone, and other qualities your audience prefers  Understand the concept of usability in relation to audience and purpose Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    4. 4. Audience All technical communication is intended for a specific audience. Before writing, identify precisely who will be reading the document and how they will use the material. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    5. 5. Analyze Your Document’s Audience and Purpose Explore all you can about who will use your document, why they will use it, and how they will use it:       Who is the main audience for this document? Who else is likely to read it? What is your relationship with the audience? Are multiple types of relationships involved? What information does this audience need? How familiar might the audience be with technical details? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    6. 6. Analyze Your Document’s Audience and Purpose (continued)    Do these readers have varying levels of expertise? What culture or cultures does your audience represent? How might cultural differences shape readers’ expectations and interpretations? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    7. 7. Primary and Secondary Audience When writing a technical document, keep two audiences in mind. Primary Audience: The immediate audience of readers. Secondary Audience: Individuals outside the immediate circle of people who will be needing the information directly. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    8. 8. Your Relationship to Your Readers Consider the following when you assess audience: Are they superiors, colleagues or subordinates? Are they inside or outside of your organization? Do you know them personally? Are they likely to welcome or resist your information? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    9. 9. Purpose of Your Document Spell out precisely what you want your document to accomplish and how you expect readers to use it—your purpose. What is the main purpose of the document? What other purpose or purposes does the document serve? What will readers do with this information? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    10. 10. Primary and Secondary Purpose All documents have a primary purpose and a secondary purpose: Primary purpose: The document’s main purpose—to inform, to instruct, or to persuade. Secondary purpose: What else should the document do? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    11. 11. Intended Use of the Document Also consider how and why a document will be used by others: Do my readers simply want to learn facts or understand concepts? Will they use my information in making some type of decision? Will people act immediately on the information? Do they need step-by-step instructions? In my audience’s view, what is most important about this document? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    12. 12. Assess Your Audience’s Technical Background Decide whether your document should be highly technical, semitechnical, or nontechnical: Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    13. 13. Identify the Audience’s Cultural Background Consider how cultural differences might create misunderstanding in any situation, and seek an approach that bridges these differences. Information needs and preferences often are culturally determined: being direct vs. being indirect using a formal tone vs. using a friendly tone prioritizing individual contributions vs. prioritizing group contributions Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    14. 14. Anticipate Your Audience’s Preferences Readers approach any document with certain preferences: Length and details: Do they want something comprehensive or short? Format and medium: Do they want a letter, memo, or short report. Do they want it delivered in hard copy or electronically? Tone: Do they expect your tone to be formal, semiformal, or informal? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    15. 15. Anticipate Your Audience’s Preferences (continued)  Due date and timing: Is there a deadline? How can you break down the deadline into milestones?  Budget: Does your document have a production budget? Where can you save money? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    16. 16. Develop an Audience and Use Profile In order to focus sharply on your audience, purpose, and the many factors discussed in this chapter, develop your own version of the Audience and Use Profile Sheet and fill it out completely. This sheet will keep you focused as you write. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    17. 17. Check Your Document for Usability A usable document is safe, dependable, and easy to read and navigate. A usable document allows people to do three things: Easily locate the information they need Understand the information immediately Use the information safely and successfully Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    18. 18. Review Questions 1. What is the definition of audience? 2. What is the difference between a primary audience and a secondary audience? 3. What is the definition of purpose? 4. What is a document’s primary purpose vs. it’s secondary purpose or purposes? 5. What are the three types of audience in terms of their technical background? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    19. 19. Review Questions (continued) 6. What do the three types of technical audience’s want? 7. What are three areas you need to consider regarding cultural differences? 8. What are the audience’s preferences you should consider when writing a document? 9. Why should you develop an audience and use profile sheet? 10. What is a usable document? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
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