In the technical world, not much thought is given to the audience
analysis necessary to present outstanding presentations and seminars
and write, compose and edit papers and reports. Nonetheless, while
the concept seems simple and obvious that we should not speak
quantum mechanics, applications of group theory to synthesis or
analysis or multivariate statistics to an audience of youngsters.
In practice, so often we try so hard to present our ideas, revealing
our command of our subject areas that we lose sight of a key first
step of communication: know our audience.
When we speak or write, our first view might seem to be that audience
analysis is the same and our responsibilities are to provide what the
audience needs, wants and values and influence the audience’s thoughts,
feelings or behaviors.
A thorough discussion of audience analysis in ACA Open Online
Guide to Public Speaking by P. DeCarro and T. Adams points out
five “layers” and the first one may be substantially different for oral and
written presentations– situational analysis.
Are the audience members present voluntarily of their own desire and
want to be there listening?
Other layers include:
audience demographics: homogeneous or heterogeneous. In oral presentations
we can assess and adapt. Whereas audience analysis for written work,
can lose its credibility and power if it does not presume heterogeneity
to a degree.
Audience values, beliefs and attitudes: how the audience thinks and feels
and develops a bias or opinion.
audience multicultural breadth: language and style biased by culture.
topic knowledge or prior knowledge of audience.
A second reference on audience analysis covers similar topics, but also
adds how the writer (in this case) can adapt, focusing on examples,
transitions, introductions, graphics, sentence structure and formatting.
So this presents what the author can do, rather than characteristics
of the “audience layers,” as in the first reference