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Types of Audiences You May Encounter

Neutral

Your audience may be indifferent or not directly involved in the topic you are discussing in your paper.  In this situation, you will want to find a way to get your audience to care or to become invested without offending them.

Here are some considerations for a neutral audience:

  • The audience may be on the fence at this point, so you want to tread carefully when you are writing.
  • Include background information to familiarize the audience with the topic.
  • Try to relate to something they may be familiar with to get them to care.

Hostile

Members of your audience may not always be willing to hear or read what you have to say about a topic.  That's okay.  It is impossible to make everyone feel the same way about a topic. 

Here are some considerations for a hostile audience:

  • Always consider the ideas and opinions that do not agree with your own.
  • Consider who the individuals are that you may disagree with and why they may feel the way they do.
  • Play devil’s advocate with yourself.  Ask yourself (or have someone else ask you) what you might be leaving out.
  • Try to find a common ground, a starting point where either your audience can relate to you or you can relate to them.
  • Think of reasons of why they support their point-of-view.

Uninformed

Sometimes your audience may not be familiar with or understand your topic.  If this is the type of audience that you are addressing, then you will need to figure out what and how much information to give them.

Here are some considerations for an uninformed audience:

  • Think about what is essential for the audience to understand what you are talking about.
  • Don’t bog the audience down with too much background information.  Make sure you are still sticking to the main point you want to make in the paper.
  • Decide what definitions the audience will need to understand the topic.

Expert

This type of audience is well-informed on the topic that you are writing about.  In this case, you will need to make sure that you have done your homework and present information that is reliable.

Here are some considerations for an expert audience:

  • Since your audience is familiar with the topic, don’t waste their time by giving them background information they already have.
  • Be specific with the point you are trying to make about the topic.
  • Do your research.  Don’t think that a brief overview of sources will be enough to convince this audience. 

Business

If you are writing for an audience in the business world, then you will want to be direct and concise.  Often, this audience does not have time to read extra information and is only interested in the point you are trying to make.  Time is money; don’t waste either.

Here are some considerations for a business audience:

  • Don’t waste time painting a picture or telling a story.  Get right to the point.
  • Be polite, especially if you are trying to tell your audience something that they may not want to hear.
  • Always make sure your audience feels as though you are considering them, not focusing on yourself.
  • Be clear and concise.  Keep it short.
  • Give the audience the information in shorter straightforward paragraphs that will be easy to follow.