Consider the following questions as you analyze your audience. Use these questions to help you complete your
Audience Profile Sheet for each project.
- Who is addressed in the audience? What are the characteristics of the audience? What are the relevant authority relationships of audience members?
- What do you assume the audience’s needs to be? To what use(s) do you expect the audience to put the information?
- What is the background of the audience (credentials, expertise, levels of experience, and knowledge about and proficiency with the subject matter)?
- What are the beliefs, attitudes, values, and prejudices of the audience? Are there corporate-political considerations?
- What topics are valued by the audience (for instance, maximizing profit, customer service, brand loyalty, accuracy, speed)?
- What constitutes valid information for the audience (for instance, personal experience/observation, informal/formal analysis, scientific measurement)?
- What constitutes successful communication for the audience (for instance, brevity, conciseness, insight, grammatical correctness)?
What diminishes the effectiveness of information for the audience?
- What type(s) of communication does the audience expect (for instance, presentations, reports, memoranda, technical documents, e-mail, letters)?
What length of document does the audience expect?
- What organization of the document does the audience expect?
- What formatting conventions does the audience expect?
- Does the audience expect or will it accept jargon or specialized language, and abbreviations?
- What tone does the audience exect? What attitude do/should you have as writer/speaker toward the audience?
(Adapted from James Porter’s “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community,” Rhetoric Review 5 (1986): 34-47.)