Anticipating Audience Response

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Anticipating Audience Response

Anticipating Audience Response

One step in the planning process for written communication needs to be anticipation of the audience response. If you find yourself having to search for answers to questions you did not see coming, you have not done enough research into your audience. Positive presentation of your ideas and confidence in your topic will show your audience that you are competent. There are some things you can do to find out who your audience is and anticipate how they will respond to what you have to say:

  1. Decide who your audience is
  2. Determine your audience's demographics.
  3. Learn how much your audience knows about the topic.
  4. Determine what the audience expects and how they will respond.

Now let's look at each of these strategies in detail.

Determining Who Your Audience Is

Your audience is composed of both primary and secondary readers:

  1. The primary audience is who you are actually writing the document for. Decide who, in this primary audience, has the most decision-making power and address their concerns first.
  2. Your secondary audience needs to be considered, of course, but the concerns of those who can affect company decisions need to be considered first.

In order to determine what the tone of your communication will be, think about your place in the chain of command or hierarchy of the company. Your status in the company will also play a role in how your message is received.

For example, if you are directing your communication to a supervisor, the tone you employ will not be the same as if you are addressing a subordinate.

Determining Your Audience's Demographics

Demographics of the audience also play a role in how you address them, and in the tone you employ in the document. The table below lists some considerations for determining your audience's demographics.

Gender The imagery you use in the communication should be gender-neutral. For example, if you use sports analogies or analogies involving housekeeping, you may inadvertently offend someone in your audience. Of course, the use of sexist language is never appropriate in business communication.
Race and Ethnicity As with gender, the language you use needs to also be neutral concerning race and ethnicity. Your statements appealing to the concerns and attitudes of diverse groups need to be written without writing anything that can be considered to be racially biased.
Culture As you are writing your document, take into consideration any cultural differences you may be exposed to and do not inadvertently offend someone. Some cultural differences to take into account are how you address the person or deadlines stated in the project that may conflict with different holiday or religious schedules.
Class The language you use is dependent upon the socioeconomic class of the audience. You want to use language that is familiar to the group and not demeaning in any way. In order to persuade your audience, you need to use language that will not inadvertently offend them.

Learning How Much Your Audience Knows About the Topic

If the topic is something new that you are introducing, you will need to include introductory material and details; however, you will need to avoid overwhelming your audience with a lot of technical information or jargon.

Jargon is the language that those very familiar with the subject will use. Knowing how familiar the material is to the audience will help you determine the tone, the language, and the amount of detail you will include in the document.

Determine What the Audience Expects and How They Will Respond

If you can anticipate the questions your audience will ask, you can answer them in the original document. This will help:

  1. Establish goodwill.
  2. Show your reader you are competent.
  3. Eliminate a lot of back-and-forth communication about the document.

To do this, you need to know what your audience expects regarding the content you are providing. Do some research, ask questions, and get a feel for how they will react to your communication.