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Contributors:Allen Brizee, Dana Lynn Driscoll.
Summary:

Audience Analysis: Building Information About Your Readers? discusses your communication's complex audience and provides key questions you can ask to determine readers' needs, values, and attitudes. This section also provides useful charts to help you with your audience analysis.

Audience Analysis Overview

In order to compose persuasive, user-centered communication, you should gather as much information as possible about the people reading your document. Your audience may consist of people who may have differing needs and expectations. In other words, you may have a complex audience in all the stages of your document's lifecycle—the development stage, the reading stage, and the action stage.

Development stage

Reading stage

Action stage

Keep in mind that documents may not go through a clear, three-step process. Instead, the lifecycle of your communication may consist of overlapping stages of evolution. User-centered writing calls for close cooperation between those who are composing the documents, those who will read and act upon the documents, and those who will be affected by the actions.

Contributors:Allen Brizee, Dana Lynn Driscoll.
Summary:

Audience Analysis: Building Information About Your Readers? discusses your communication's complex audience and provides key questions you can ask to determine readers' needs, values, and attitudes. This section also provides useful charts to help you with your audience analysis.

The Development Stage

Audience Analysis

A helpful way of gathering information about your readers is to conduct an audience analysis. Depending on the purpose and needs of your documents, you may perform a brief audience profile or an in-depth audience analysis (or something in between). You may expand or contract the following process to match your situation, but remember that the more you know about your potential readers, the more persuasive and user-centered your documents may be.

Some key questions (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan's Technical Communication Today) to ask about your readers are:

Meeting frequently (in person and/or virtually) with members of your audience to discuss their needs and expectations will also help you compose your documents. The following reader analysis chart (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan) is effective for investigating your audience:

Readers Needs Values Attitudes
Gatekeeper
Primary
Secondary
Shadow

How readers will use your documents is also important. This context analysis chart (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan) is effective for determining how your audience will use your documents:

Physical
Context
Economic
Context
Political
Context
Ethical
Context
Primary
Readers
Readers'
Company
Readers'
Industry

In addition, determining where your audience sits in their organization may help you understand readers' specific needs. Drawing a chart of your communication's lifecycle will help you gather this information about your audience. The following graphic illustrates the development stage where you might be authoring a document with a team of people in your organization:

Audience analysis: who are they? What do they need? Where will they be reading? When will they be reading? Why will they be reading? How will they be reading?  What position do they occupy in their organization?  What responsibilities do they have?

Image Caption: Development Stage

Contributors:Allen Brizee, Dana Lynn Driscoll.
Summary:

Audience Analysis: Building Information About Your Readers? discusses your communication's complex audience and provides key questions you can ask to determine readers' needs, values, and attitudes. This section also provides useful charts to help you with your audience analysis.

Reading and Action Stage

Reading Stage

The following graphics illustrate the reading stage where your communication might be read by a number of people including your primary audience, secondary audience, and shadow readers:

Action stage consists of your organization and the client organization, with additional shadow readers within the client's organization (with specific named examples).

Image Caption: Reading Stage

Reading stage, complex image.  Provides an example of an organizational hierarchy where the presdient and directors are at the top, and the document moves through at least some of these readers during its process.

Image Caption: Reading Stage (Detailed)

Action Stage

The following graphic illustrates the action stage where your communication's information might lead to decisions, which in turn, can lead to action that influences the lives of your stakeholders. In a user-centered writing process, decision makers and stakeholders will provide feedback to help you further revise your communication:

During the reading stage, your organization is connected to the client (a complex audience).  Stakeholders are connected to the client through feedback, as are decisions and actions.

Image Caption: Action Stage

References

Anderson, Paul V. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach. 6th ed. Boston: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2007.

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard. Technical Communication Today. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2005.