Keep your Audience in Mind
When we talk face-to-face with people we automatically adjust what we say. But we don’t always make this adjustment well when we write.
Therefore it is vital to keep your audience in mind. This seems obvious. After all a letter to your sister would be different from a prayer letter to your supporters. But it is surprising how easy this is to forget.
Before you begin writing, ask yourself:
- Who is my audience?
- What do they need or want?
- What do they value?
- What might they already know about my subject?
- What is most important to them?
- What impression do you want to convey to your audience?
Another question I find useful is, “What questions might my audience have?” We sometimes assume the readers know more than they do, especially when we’re writing about things we know well. Have someone else read your first draft and you’ll probably find out some of the questions your audience will have.
When you write for a magazine or other official publication, you should always check to see if they have Writer’s Guidelines. These should tell you who is the standard audience and answer some of the above questions.
I recently received an email about a prospective article for this magazine. In it the author wrote, “What do the Japan Harvest readers want or need?” Before the article was even written, this writer was thinking about his audience. He’d already identified his audience, but he was thinking more deeply than just the “who” (question 1 above). He was asking those essential “what” questions (2-6 above).
Remember your audience whenever and whatever you write.
- Before you write, think about who your audience will be.
- After you’ve finished writing, read it aloud, trying to put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
- Ask someone else to read your work to give you a reader’s perspective.