Audience Analysis

As a first step toward analyzing your audience for argument, you should review the Analyzing Your Audience worksheet in the Writing Process area of the Excelsior OWL. Then, check out this video below, which will take you through the key steps of analyzing your audience. Be sure your volume is turned up!

Video Transcript

Analyzing Your Audience: A Key to Your Success

A writing process presentation brought to you by the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab.

Why Know Your Audience?

When you write anything, it’s important to do your best to understand your audience. But, knowing your audience’s needs, beliefs, and expectations can be especially important in argumentative writing because you’re working to convince your audience of something.

Audience and Content

When you’re making an argument, you have to decide what content or evidence you will use. Your audience should be key in making that decision. You have to think about what kind of information and evidence will be convincing to your audience.

Audience and Style

Your audience shouldn’t just play a role in content. You should be aware of your audience when you think about the way you write or how you “sound” as well. Do you want to have a serious tone? Do you want to sound professional? What will be the most convincing style to your audience in your particular situation?

How to Understand Your Audience

Once you understand how important it is to consider your audience, it’s time to think about what you can do to gain a better understanding of your audience. It can be tricky! But, there are some tools you can use to help you think about the people you are trying to persuade.

A Public Audience

If you’re writing to share your work with a specific, public audience, you have an advantage because you can do some research on your audience. You can talk to people or research an audience on the web to find out more about how they might think, what their interests are, and what biases they might have. This information should help you make good decisions as you write.

An Academic Audience

If your writing assignment is intended for an academic audience only, you will have to work with a very diverse group. But, you should keep that diversity in mind. Listen to your classmates and read what they write. What do you know about them? A diverse, academic audience can be tough to write for because you have to imagine so many different perspectives, but a good writer will work to do this well.

Questions to Consider

As you work to understand any audience, there are some basic questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What are the demographics of my audience (age, gender, professions)?
  2. What will my audience already know about my topic?
  3. What biases might my audience have on my topic? Where might these biases have come from?
  4. Is my audience diverse in their opinions, or do I think they are like minded?

When you keep your audience in mind, you’re taking steps to becoming a strong, flexible writer. The key to your success as a writer is understanding how your argument and writing as a whole will change depending upon your audience!

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