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Write for Your Audience

Audience is the most important consideration in any communication...

People are different and have different needs. You will need to write one way if your audience is EMS personnel, another way if your audience is scientific researchers, and a completely different way if your audience is the general public.

Often Forgotten

Audience is the most important consideration in any communication, but it is the one we most often forget. We assume people are just as interested in our subject as we are, so we pack our reports full of detail and nuance. We assume people won’t take us seriously unless we include pages and pages of data and tables to prove our point. We assume people won’t take us seriously unless we include pages and pages of data and tables to prove our point. We forget what the audience cares about and focus on the wrong messages. Or, even worse, we don’t even understand how to best communicate with our audience, so they don’t even receive the messages we’re sending them. I guarantee you’ve all done this. We all have.

Put Yourself in Their ShoesSo how do you write for audience?

  • Go through the questions in Step 2 and thoughtfully come up with answers.
  • Try to ask additional questions specific to your subject matter.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What would they want to know?
  • Talk to your audience. Find out specifically what they’d like to know.
  • Test your material out on some members of your audience and get their feedback. This can be one of the most beneficial tools of all.

But if all else fails, here is a table to help you determine how to approach different audiences:

Audience

Text/Detail

Data

Visuals

Researchers, academics, technicians, etc.

Provide good overview, including methods and some methods

Provide sufficient data to make a clear argument.

Use sufficient visuals and charts that communicate your message

Practitioners and colleagues in your field

Provide executive summary and some other details of interest to the field.

1-4 uses of data with emphasis on practice, QI, and efficiency.

Use plenty of visuals. Convert text and data into visuals to speed up readability.

Administrators, leaders, policy makers, etc.

Provide executive summary only, with emphasis on conclusions and suggested actions

1-3 uses of clear, conclusive data, with emphasis on quality, money, and outcomes.

Use plenty of visual messages. Convert text and data into visuals to speed up readability.

Public, parents, media

Provide only a few facts; then focus on take-home messages

1-2 uses of simple data, with emphasis on gravity of the problem and take-home messages. Translate data into real-world language.

Lots of visuals and pictures that communicate your message. Convert text and data into visuals to speed up readability.

 

Next StepMake It Visually Appealing >>

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rev. 29-Aug-2016

 

 

 

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