Knowing Your Audience

In a previous post, I wrote about knowing your voices. The overall gist is that we all have unique voices, and we all have multiple voices. What factors affect which voice I use when? I contend that one key factor is audience. Who are you speaking to at any given time? In my examples in the previous post, I spoke differently to my newborn and to my husband. Why? The audience changed. I wrote differently in various classes. Why? The audience changed. We change our voices often and┬ánaturally throughout the day (think of conversations with your boss and your teenager). But when we write, we don’t always see our audience, so it’s easy to forget and miss the mark with our voice when we fail to consider our audience.

So here’s an idea. Before you start writing something, picture your readers. Maybe they’re sitting across the table from you. Or maybe you can visualize where and when they’ll be reading what you have to say. Got the mental picture?

  • Now, ask yourself the following:
  • What do your readers like to read?
  • What gets them excited?
  • What are their pet peeves?
  • What do they want to hear?
  • What do they need to hear?
  • If they have the ability to walk away from you (psst, they do), what is it that would cause them to leave?
  • What would keep them listening?
  • How do you want them to feel by the end of your writing?
  • What do you hope they will think?

There’s more to consider, of course. But there’s a start. And as you write and edit each piece, maybe your intended audience will change. If so, make sure to allow your voice to change with it.