The article “ Audience Analysis: Building Information About Your Readers ,” from the Purdue Online Writing Lab, says, “Depending on the purpose and needs of your documents, you may perform a brief audience profile or an in-depth audience analysis.” When writing for colleagues or others you know, audience analysis probably won’t take long, but spending the necessary time analyzing an unknown reader is crucial.
To analyze your audience , ask:
Who will find the information important or significant?
Often, you’ll know before writing who the document is for, but sometimes you may not. Asking yourself what readers would find the purpose the most important can help you understand them, why they’re reading, and what they need or expect from the document. In addition, learning as much as possible about your reader can help you define your purpose for writing.
How will the reader use the document?
Consider, too, how the reader will use the document. Is the reader reading because she wants to learn how to do something? To be persuaded? To understand? Discovering why your reader is reading can help you write a document that’s more likely to be read and use appropriately.
What does the reader expect from the document?
Too often, writers forget that readers have certain expectations for documents. For instance, readers expect emails and memos to be brief and to the point; as such, be sure to consider your readers’ expectations for the document, both in terms of its format and its function.