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Audience Analysis

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  • 1. Primary Audience Analysis and Technical Reporting
  • 2. What Is Audience Analysis?
    • Audience analysis is the process of dissecting & examining the intended readers of a document in order to adapt your writing to their needs, wants, beliefs attitudes, etc. Documents that meet the primary audience’s needs are more likely to be used.
    • Sample Audience Analysis:
    • We will prepare this technical description for the employees of Corporation X. This population ranges in age from approximately 22 for recent college graduates to about 70 for our semi-retired part-timers. The gender ratio of the corporation is fairly evenly divided, approximately 40% female and 60% male. All readers will have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, and several members of the management have MBAs. The corporation includes many different ethnicities: approximately 40% Asian, 30% white, 10% black, 10% Hispanic, and 10% other.
    • This product uses completely new technology; therefore, we do not anticipate having any experienced users. We expect that employees who play video games on their break will embrace the new technology, while those who dislike email and instant messaging will resist it. We anticipate the engineers and designers will need only a quick start guide; however, management and human resources will need detailed directions, background, and definitions
  • 3.
      • a primary audience of people who use your document in carrying out their jobs
      • a secondary audience of people who need to stay aware of developments in the organization but who will not directly act on or respond to your document
      • a tertiary audience of people who might take an interest in the subject of the document
    Review of Types of Audiences
  • 4. Purpose of Audience Analysis
    • The purpose of technical reporting is to give the audience something valuable. Whether you are creating a technical description or a persuasive proposal, if the audience does not understand it or doesn’t read it, the purpose will be lost.
    • Be an audience-centered writer and ask these three questions before drafting:
      • 1. “Who am I writing for?”
      • 2. “What do I want them to know, believe, or do because of my document or presentation?”
      • 3. “What do I want this document to accomplish? What do I want readers to do?”
  • 5.
      • the reader’s education
      • the reader’s professional experience
      • the reader’s job responsibility
      • the reader’s personal characteristics
      • the reader’s personal preferences
      • the reader’s cultural characteristics
    Factors to Consider About Your Target Reader
  • 6. Why is Audience Analysis Important?
    • Audiences are egocentric. (What’s in it for me?)
    • Audiences will judge writing based on what they already know and believe.
      • What do they know or think they know?
    • To be an effective communicator, you must relate your message to a primary target audience’s existing interests/concerns, knowledge, and beliefs.
  • 7.
    • EXPERT
    • TECHNICIAN
    • MANAGER OR EXECUTIVE
    • GENERAL READER OR LAYMAN
    General Categories of Audiences
  • 8. Variables That Lie Beneath the Surface:
      • Each variable on the right represents a spectrum of attitudes.
      • The variables may not line up in a clear pattern for all employees.
      • Different organizations within the same culture can vary greatly.
      • An organization’s cultural attitudes are fluid, not static.
      • Variables
      • distance between business life and private life
      • distance between ranks within a company
      • nature of truth
      • need to spell out details
      • attitudes toward uncertainty
  • 9. Primary Audiences in the Workplace and Age
    • Younger adults (under 30) and near-retirement adults are less motivated by career-related innovation; a more engaging, persuasive approach to communication is needed with those groups.
    • Needs for caution and risk information increase with age of primary audience. Younger audiences easily ignore safety info.
      • What are the implications for what to include or emphasize?
  • 10. Primary Audience and Gender
    • Some technical fields are predominantly male (e.g. IT); others are female (Vet Tech). If you are targeting the opposite gender in a document or both genders out of a single-sex dominant culture, keep in mind:
    • Gender differences relate more to culture or sub-culture than to biology.
    • Females are more people-oriented in getting information; males are more “thing” oriented. Consider the implications for document organization.
      • Men may feel communication should “get to the point”; women may feel that approach is too direct and cold. It’s hard to relate to information that does not meet your expectations for tone and organization.
      • Meet the expectations of the culture who the document is targeting.
  • 11. Primary Audiences and Education
    • Opinions of well-educated, knowledgeable audiences are more firmly held, and more consistent over time.
    • Listening and reading skills increase with education.
    • Changes in attitude of well-educated audiences are usually related to new information they receive, not persuasion.
    • Knowledgeable readers want to know where the new info comes from; they “consider the source” more often.
    • Opinions of less-educated, less knowledgeable primary audiences are more pessimistic about their capability to understand or change.
      • Using a positive approach in documents for the general reader is crucial.
      • Be aware that some fields don’t expect change; others anticipate it
  • 12. Writing for Multi-lingual Audiences
    • Limit your vocabulary.
    • Keep sentences short.
    • Define abbreviations and acronyms in a glossary.
    • Avoid jargon unless you know your readers are familiar with it.
    • Avoid idioms and slang.
    • Use the active voice whenever possible.
    • Be careful with graphics.
    • Be sure someone from the target culture reviews the document.
  • 13. Document Contexts
    • Examine the features of the audience unique to the situation:
    • What is the audience’s disposition toward the:
      • Topic?
      • Writer (you)?
    • How motivated is the target audience to listen to or understand the information? What is the nature of their motivation to understand?
    • Are they forced to read or want to read the info? This can affect the tone, structure, and organization of your document!
  • 14. Questions Used to Analyze
    • Questions to consider about your primary, target audience:
    • What is your target audience’s experience with your topic? Positive, negative, or neutral? Is it unfamiliar info? Or info so familiar your audience thinks they know more than they actually do?
    • What terms and concepts will they probably not understand? How well-educated are they? Do they have good reading skills? Good listening skills?
    • What do you need to tell them so that they understand your meaning?
    • What misconceptions might they have?
  • 15. Adapt Your Writing for the Primary Audience
    • By tailoring writing in content, language, organization, and amount of detail, to the target audience you have identified.
    • Be specific in picking an audience—don’t assume everyone who can read English will need or want to read the info. Identify why a target group would want the information—and organize your document around those needs.
    • Talk to your audience, not at them. Change your vocabulary to fit the knowledge of your target audience.
    • Begin your documents with a clear statement of purpose and clear indications of what the document does and doesn’t contain, to connect with the reader’s needs right away.
  • 16. Adapt Writing for the Primary Audience
    • Add information readers need to understand your document.
    • Omit information your readers do not need.
    • Write stronger introductions —both for the whole document and for major sections. .
    • Create topic sentences for paragraphs and paragraph groups.
    • Add examples to help readers understand.
    • Change the organization of your information.
    • Change sentence length and style.
    • Work on sentence clarity and economy.
    • Use more or different graphics .
    • Break text up or consolidate text into meaningful, usable chunks.
    • Add cross-references to important information. 
    • Use headings and lists.
  • 17. Purpose of Your Document
    • Along with audience, purpose shapes the writing situation of the document. In most cases, writers can express the purpose of the document in a sentence (for example, “This document explains how to upgrade the operating system on your computer”).
    • After assessing the writing situation, writers should determine how the purpose will affect the scope, structure, organization, sentence structure and length, vocabulary, and tone of the document. Keep in mind that a document may have multiple purposes or different purposes for different audiences.