WHAT IS AUDIENCE AWARENESS? Audience awareness means knowing your audience. It means knowing WHO you are trying to convince and HOW to convince them.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? If you do not know your audience, then you cannot reach them. You must connect with your audience right from the start or you will lose them and they will not read your essay.
Q: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? A: Technically speaking, the falling tree makes sound waves that can be measured, but unless someone hears it, the sound is virtually meaningless. An unread essay is just like a lonely tree— without an audience, it is meaningless.
First, Identify Your Audience There are three basic types of audiences The Uninterested The Uninformed The Unconvinced Make sure you identify which audience you are targeting BEFORE you begin writing.
The Uninterested This audience might share different interests or might not think that the topic affects them.
The Uninformed This audience does not possess the basic background information necessary to understand your argument.
The Unconvinced This audience is fundamentally opposed to your argument.
Next, make sure you use your introductory paragraph to grab your audience and keep them.
The Uninterested This financial investor is probably not going to be interested in your essay on the strength of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Arguing that a T-Rex could easily overwhelm an armadillo is a valid argument, BUT if you do not relate the topic to the financial investor, you lose him immediately.
Make Your Topic Relatable In your introduction, connect your topic to something that will interest your audience. But how do you make financial advisors interested in dinosaurs?
Spark Interest Compare the strength of the T-Rex to the strength of sound investments in acquiring wealth. Now you have a topic that makes this guy interested and happy to read your essay.
The Uninformed Writing an essay about the U.S.’s role in global econ0mics for young kids is probably not going to mean much to this little guy… or any of his friends, for that matter.
Make Your Topic Understandable In your introduction, provide some type of anecdote (story), analogy, or description that allows your audience to gain a rapid understanding of the basic ideas behind your premise. But how can you get elementary schoolers to understand difficult economic issues?
Facilitate Understanding Start your essay by describing a day in school where the teacher is in a bad mood. Her mood affects everyone in the class. This is something that every child understands. Once you made that point, you can talk about how the health of the U.S. economy is similar to the teacher’s mood. With uninformed audiences, you will ALWAYS need to give more background information and do more explaining.
The Unconvinced If you want to prove to Will Smith that his friend, Tom Cruise, has issues, you probably do not want to start your essay with “Tom Cruise is a raging lunatic.” If you begin your essay with your argument, especially if your audience is “unconvinced,” you will get this reaction:
Make Yourself Trustworthy The unconvinced audience might never take your side, but since the goal is to get them to READ the essay, it is extremely important to start off with a factual description of the situation that establishes trust without making them mad or offending them. But how can you avoid making Will Smith mad when you criticize his buddy?
Facilitate Trust 1) Provide factual definition of mental illness. 2) Provide examples of Tom Cruise’s behavior without naming him 3) Once it is apparent that the described person might be mentally ill, identify him as Cruise.
Finally, Remember your audience throughout the essay. Use appropriate language and arguments designed specifically with your audience in mind. The Uninterested Audience: Provide examples that relate to their interests. The Uninformed Audience: Use terminology and examples that are understandable; Explain everything thoroughly. The Unconvinced Audience: Maintain credibility through the use of factual evidence and reliable sources, knock down major opposing arguments, and avoid offensive language.
Major Points… 1) Identify the audience before drafting. 2) Use your introduction to grab the reader. 3) Remember your audience throughout the essay. Make Your Topic Relatable Make Your Topic Understandable Make Yourself Trustworthy