Most people have a fairly strong sense of audience awareness. You were a natural rhetorician from the time you were a child, when you worked to convince your parents to get you a certain toy. You probably honed your rhetorical skills with your parents during your teenage years. Most of us do.
But audience awareness can get a little more complicated when you have to write for a diverse audience or an audience you don’t know very well. Still, we can use what we do know about being effective for an audience and apply that to academic situations.
The important thing is to do your best to think about what might appeal to a particular group of people. In the samples below, you’ll see paragraphs written on the same topic to three different audiences. Which one would be most appropriate for a formal research paper required in an academic setting? Which one would be most effective within a group of friends or family, perhaps something you might see as a Facebook post for a class? Which one might work well as a journal entry, intended for just you and your teacher, for an education class? As you read through each paragraph, think about who the intended audience might be and how both content and style change in different situations, even though the topics are the same. Notice how the tone becomes more formal as you progress.