Writing for an audience
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Writing for an Audience:. Building on What You Know to Communicate Better. Goals. Learn five main questions for considering your audience Identify key elements in a syllabus for insight into your teacher’s expectations Discuss your questions and concerns. Five Key Questions.

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Writing for an audience

Writing for an Audience:

Building on What You Know to Communicate Better



  • Learn five main questions for considering your audience

  • Identify key elements in a syllabus for insight into your teacher’s expectations

  • Discuss your questions and concerns

Five key questions

Five Key Questions

  • Do you have a specific intended audience?

  • Who is your intended audience? What are their personal characteristics?

  • What is their job, profession, or field of expertise?

  • What does your audience know about your topic? What could they NOT know about your topic, considering their personal characteristics?

  • What is their level of need/interest regarding your writing? How will your audience use your writing?

Intended audience

Intended Audience?

  • BEFORE you write, ask yourself who you are writing for.

  • “Profile” the people who will be reading your writing.

  • The more specific the audience, the more focused your writing.

Who is your audience

Who Is Your Audience?

Who is your intended audience

Who Is Your Intended Audience?

Personal characteristics:

  • Where they live

  • When they went to school (age)

  • Gender, class, ethnicity

  • Language proficiency

  • Time constraints

Job profession expertise

Job, Profession, Expertise?

  • Where does your audience work?

  • What field is your audience in?

  • What subject(s) is your audience an expert in?

What does audience know

What Does Audience Know?

  • No one is 100% knowledgeable or 100% ignorant

  • Allow for a range of abilities and knowledge

  • Balance accuracy of terms or complexity with explanations

Audience needs

Audience Needs?

  • Making informed decisions

  • Intellectual challenge

  • Emotional investment

  • Entertainment/Diversion

Clues to audience in a syllabus

Clues to Audience in a Syllabus

Key Words:

  • Required

  • Course Description, Goals, Methods

  • Expectations, Attendance, Participation

  • Format

  • Pace, Schedule

  • “I” statements

  • Note

  • Grade/Rubric



Textbooks set the tone, tell a lot about the teacher’s philosophy/mood:

  • Thick, dry tomes: standardized for the subject, not personal

  • Novels, nonfiction essays: personal, intimate, emotional connections demanding self-investment

Required ii

Required II

  • Materials = individual preferences of the teacher, i.e., audience!

  • Listen in class for what to buy and when

    • Vocal stress or exclamation points = emotional value placed on these preferences


Course . . .

  • Description/Methods – the overall style or layout of the class, the general way to achieve the goals

  • Goals/Outcomes/Objectives/By the end of the course you should . . . – The point of the class, the skills instructors will expect you to know when you take a higher-level class

  • Requirements – the specific tasks of the particular instructor, i.e., the audience expectations



  • Course participation, attendance = critical to success in any course

    • School/Division policies, e.g., no plagiarism! and absence limits affect grades

    • Behavior in class: turn cell phones off, remove hats and earbuds, respect others (Your classmates are your audience, too, and they can have strict expectations!)



  • Style of class, but more often . . .

  • Audience expectations of your writing!

    • Appearance: MLA or APA, font, point size

    • Feel: stapled, manageable, smooth

Pace schedule


  • Self-paced = personal responsibility to be on schedule, meet the mileposts

  • Fast-paced = personal responsibility to be well prepared before each week begins

  • Schedule: identify due dates, exams, days of no classes, dates readings to be discussed

I statements

“I” statements

  • I expect . . . I require . . .

  • I do not . . . I will not . . .

  • I collect . . . I will look for . . .

  • I am here to help/I am on your side

  • I can be reached at/My office hours are . . .

Writing for an audience


  • “Note” signals very important information or an intricately detailed explanation

  • N.B. = (Latin) nota bene ‘note well’

Grade rubric


  • Grade = level to which you met audience expectations

  • Rubric = the “ruler” used to measure and calculate your grade

Audience pet peeves

Audience Pet Peeves

  • Speeling Errors

If you want to be taken seriously, spell well!

2. “You…you…you…” Huh? I was never there.

Own your personal experiences!

3. Overwrought, overdone, overcooked verbiage

K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple, Silly!

To summarize

To Summarize

  • Ask yourself the five questions to conceptualize your audience

  • Review your syllabus and lecture notes for your teacher’s expectations

  • You are an expert on your own experiences, so be your audience’s informant while respecting their intelligence



“Audience.” [email protected] 1993-2009. The Writing Center at Colorado State University. 19 Feb. 2009 <http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/processes/audmod>.

“Audience Planner.” Online Technical Writing. No date. No organization. 19 Feb. 2009 <http://www.io.com/~hcexres/itcm/planners/aud_plan.html>.

“Winter 2009 Classes: English.” Arts & Humanities: Student Info. Bellevue College. 7 May 2009 <http://bellevuecollege.edu/artshum/materials/Winter2009/ENGL.htm>.

Hale, Stephen. “Writing for an Audience.” Georgia Perimeter College. 19 Feb 2009 http://facstaff.gpc.edu/~shale/humanities/composition/handouts/audience.html>.

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