Audience Analysis. Thomas L. Warren Oklahoma State University firstname.lastname@example.org www.okstate.edu/artsci/techwr. Technical Communication Model. Feedback Data Data Feedback Information Information Feedback Encoded Decoded
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Audience Analysis Thomas L. Warren Oklahoma State University email@example.com www.okstate.edu/artsci/techwr
Technical Communication Model Feedback Data Data Feedback Information Information Feedback Encoded Decoded Sender Message Medium Receiver Feedback “Noise” can occur at any point in the process. Communication occurs in a context: Interpersonal, Group, Organization, Mass
How do Readers Read? • Skim • Scan • Search
Implications • SKIM • Purpose: Get drift • Implication: Summaries • SCAN • Purpose: Find item • Implication: Headings • SEARCH • Purpose: In-depth reading • Implication: Details
Audiences • Three possible audiences • Ideal—Usually infer BEFORE writing • Derived—Usually develop DURING writing; based on text • Actual—Those who ACTUALLY read text
Some Reader Types • Lay • Executive • Expert • Technician • Operator
Audience Analysis • Three approaches to audience analysis • Demographic—What you can ask about and count • Organizational—Role of individual in organization • Psychological—What reader needs to know, how reader can understand, action expected
Demographic • Education—how much formal education? • Marital Status—married, single, etc. • Sex—male, female • Income/Employment Status—earnings; working/retired; etc. • Address—where live • Children—number, ages, etc.
Implications • Suggests what reader going to do with information • Manager—larger picture, planning, scheduling, deciding • Workers—how work fits in, questioning, collecting information
Organization, cont. • In your own group • In close proximity • Elsewhere in organization • Outside organization
ANALYSIS: Classroom vs Job Practices/Procedures Practices/Procedures studied in class studied in class for academic writing for on-the job writing Rules- Reader- Strive to Strive for the based based complete job highest level errors errors of perfection Time- driven Perfection- Driven Solves problem Accurate Perfection: Complete Mechanically, Stylistically, Orderly, Correct Organizationally expression
Organizational(Mathes and Stevenson) You in your professional role Output from you to the system Your technical activities Your report writing activities Input from the system to you Feedback to you
Psychological:Three Questions • What does my reader NEED to know? • How can I help my reader to UNDERSTAND? • What do I want my reader TO DO with the information?
Three Questions • What does the reader NEED to know? • Quantity • Content
Three Questions • How can I help my reader to UNDERSTAND the material? • Definitions, visuals, etc. • Sentence and paragraph length and structure • Background information • Qualitative details (technical) • Clear statements of purpose and function
Three Questions • What do I want my reader TO DO with the information? • Approve or disapprove • Accept a recommendation • Take some other kind of action • Be informed only • Other • How will I know that my report is a GOOD one?
Additional Elements to Consider • Culture • Environment • Attitudes toward • Writer • Subject • Activity
Cultural Considerations • Attitudes of culture toward • Time—value it? little value? • Goals—individual? group? • Reliance—self-reliant? dependent on group? • Learning—to do a job only? on-going?
Environment • Location where document used—legibility issues • Access time—short/long • Pressures—rapid response; slow response
Attitudes • Relating to writer, subject, report • Writer—positive? negative? • Subject—interested? not? favorable? unfavorable? • Report—anxious to have? yet one more to get through?
Manipulating Text • Control, among other things— • Vocabulary—level of technicality • Sentence structure—complex, simple • Sentence structure—old-new information • Paragraph structure—placement of elements
Old/New and Sentence Structure The lens focuses the laser beam to a sharp hot point at which the air explodes with a bright red flash. The point where the laser beam is brought to a focus, the air is ionized by the intense heat and a brilliant red flash is produced. Lens focuses laser beam to sharp point where air molecules explode with bright red flash. Old information—what you assume the reader already knows. New information—what you assume the reader does not already know.
Look at Some Samples • Watch for what helps you identify the assumed reader: • Vocabulary—technical, everyday, etc.? • Length of sentences • What is old information in each? What is new? • Where would you use each?
Samples: How are they different? The lens focuses the laser beam to a sharp hot point at which the air explodes with a bright red flash. The point where the laser beam is brought to a focus, the air is ionized by the intense heat and a brilliant red flash is produced. Lens focuses laser beam to sharp point where air molecules explode with bright red flash.
Samples cont. See Fig. 4-1. Laser A emits coherent Beam B. Lens C focuses rays to sharp point D at which air ionizes and explodes. Traversing the lens, the laser beam forgets its storied coherence and converges to a pin point where it generates the heat of fifty suns. The air molecules thither are burst asunder, a ruby flash and cerulean puff signaling their extinction.
Samples cont. The Wright Electric Type 14 ruby laser (oscillator-amplifier configuration) emits a coherent deep red light (0.69 microns) in a 100-milliwatt peak power burst. When the rays are brought to a focus at a point at a point 2 inches beyond the General Optics A-30 biconvex lens through which the rays pass, the light there generates enough heat to ionize the air molecules in a 0.5-millisecond point explosion accompanied by a bright flash.
Samples cont. Satisfactory optics in combination with state-of-the-art laser electronics actualize narrowly localized heating at a discrete point in space. This is evidenced by the transient radiant phenomenon visible at the focus.
Audience Analysis: And finally . . . • Understanding your audience improves communication • Three approaches—overlap • Demographic • Organizational • Psychological • Important thing is to do it
Questions? Contact Thomas L. Warren, Professor & Director Technical Writing Program/M205 English Department Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK 74078 firstname.lastname@example.org www.okstate.edu/artsci/techwr