Audience

So much in a writing class is given over to the structure–introduction, body, and conclusion–of the essay which is all necessary and important for academic writing.  And the one feature that sets academic writing apart from real-world writing is audience.  I mean how often are you asked to consider your audience?  Your audience, at least in school, is your teacher, the one who reads and grades your paper.  But when writing for any kind of business copy, your audience consists of a whole bunch of people, not making it any easier to identify or pinpoint who you’re writing to.  But that’s not completely true, for when it comes to writing for an audience you write for an invented audience, the ideal audience and you write a message that at least 10% of your audience will agree to.  So you’re never after everyone in your audience; to pursue that goal is foolhardy.  Instead, profile a target audience you want to win over, not an audience that is actually sitting in the, ahem, audience.  There are some techniques, however, that can make your appeal to an audience–business, civic, academic, what have you–and make your message stick.  Here are some techniques.  

ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE–Get them interested, give them a reason to listen.  This means that you’ll need to know the issues that are important to them–their fears, their desires, their futures.  

Describe a scene or a character.

Tell a story.

Share a personal experience.

Relate to a recent event.

Piggyback on a previous speaker’s remark or theme.

Point out something important about the audience or the current setting.

Show a compelling visual image.

Ask a provocative question.

State a fact that is troubling, amusing, or remarkable.

Spell out what’s at stake for your listeners.

Offer a humorous observation or anecdote.

Explain your own interest in the topic.

Tell listeners what the topic has to do with them.

Focus the presentation—tell listeners what it’s about. State the presentation’s goal or your thesis or research question. Tell listeners what they’ll learn.

 

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