Audience Analysis

Audience Analysis
Business Communication
May 1, 2011

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Business communication is essential to the success of any business. ???Good business communication is about sharing information in ways that are useful to your co-workers, business partners, and clients??? (Locker & Kienzler, 2008, p3). Delivering a sales report to a diverse group of individuals can be quite challenging, the writer/presenter must design the presentation in such a way that they will address the target audience. The person presenting the report must be aware of who their audience is and cater their presentation to address the questions and concerns of the target audience. Common sense and empathy are two of the most important tools when performing an audience analysis. Keeping the target audience in mind when preparing the presentation provides a more effective and comprehensible source of communication.

Characteristics of the Audience

Determine, who your primary audience, secondary audience, and gatekeepers are when preparing your presentation as they will be those who will be impacted by your message. The characteristics of the audience are one of the key items that must be considered when addressing a target audience, especially if it is a diverse group receiving the information. Questions that need to be examined when analyzing your target audience are:
* Who is your audience
* Which of their characteristics are relevant to the message
* In what manner are the people in your audience different, in what manner are they the same
When designing your presentation be sure to only include information relevant to the individuals who you will be addressing. Identify the economic, cultural, or situational differences that affect the way different subgroups may respond to your message (Locker & Kienzler, 2008). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a valuable method used to identify the ways that people differ; it suggests you will be more successful in your communication if you play to your audience??™s strengths.
Communication Channels
???Communication channels are the means in which you convey your message. Communication channels vary in speed, accuracy of transmission, cost, number of messages carried, and number of people reached, efficiency, and ability to promote goodwill.??? Identifying the appropriate channel can be difficult, choosing one that will maximize its effectiveness will be crucial in making your decision. Paper documents and presentations are formal and give you considerable control over the message. Written messages make it easier to present extensive data, present specific detail, and minimize undesirable emotion. Oral messages make it easier for you to use emotion to persuade people, allow you to direct your audiences attention on specific points that you can emphasize, will allow for quick conflict resolution, help build consensus, and obtain immediate response. The most frequent form of communication channel used when presenting sales information is face-to-face presentations both written and oral in most cases. In this presentation you will not only speak but also include a PowerPoint with graphs and spreadsheets to address your target audience, copies of the presentation may be given to your audience as a reference guide of your presentation. In using this form of communication, the needs of all groups in your audience will be addressed. Preparing your presentation using audience analysis is key in order for them to adapt your message. Consider the following when designing your presentation:
* How will the audience react to the message
* How will the fact that the message came from you affect the audience??™s reaction
* How much information does the audience need
* What obstacles must you overcome
* What positive aspects can you emphasize
* What are the audience??™s expectations about the appropriate language, organization, and form of messages
* How will the audience use the document
Taking all these aspects into consideration when designing your presentation will give you optimal analysis of your audience resulting in effective audience benefits.
Audience Diversity Considerations
Addressing a diverse audience will entail taking several aspects into consideration. Some of the components you will want to consider when analyzing the members of your audience will be to focus on what commonality they share. Demographic characteristics, psychographic characteristics, and organizational cultures also need to be taken into account when analyzing your audience. ???Demographic characteristics are measurable features that can be counted objectively: age, sex, race, religion, education level, income and so on. Psychographic characteristics are qualitive rather than quantative: values, beliefs, goals, and lifestyles. Organizational culture is a set of values, attitudes, and philosophies??? (Locker & Kienzler, 2008, pgs. 44-46). In addition to these you will need to identify what is important to each group within your target audience and emphasize those points.
Effective Messages
To excel in all of your communication efforts you should always seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Effective messages will need to meet five basic criteria: it is clear, complete, and correct; it saves the audience??™s time and it builds goodwill. Designing a message that communicates exactly what the presenter intended to communicate consists of preparing a clear message. This will ensure that your message is clear, and the audience will not have to guess what you are trying to communicate. Creating a complete message with enough information that answers all the audience??™s questions so they may evaluate and act on it ensures effective information. Making sure that you prepare thoroughly so that your message is free from errors in spelling, grammar, word order, and sentence structure is another criteria for effective messages. Ensuring that your message save??™s the receiver??™s time by focusing on the style, organization, and visual and aural impact of the message help the receiver read, understand, and act on the information as quickly as possible. If your message presents a positive image of yourself and the organization and treats the audience as people not numbers, it will cement a good relationship between yourself and your audience. No single set of words will work in all possible situations but creating a message that meets as many of these criteria??™s as possible will create a message both efficient and most important effective.
In conclusion, it is critical that a thorough audience analysis be performed when creating a message that will be delivered to a group that may include a primary audience, secondary audience, gatekeepers, and auxiliary audiences. Using key audience analysis methods and tools will help in designing your message and making it effective. Identifying the characteristics, diversity, and needs of your audience, choosing the most appropriate communication channel, and creating a clear concise message that builds goodwill are facets to consider when creating effective messages.

Locker, K., & Kienzler, D. (2008). Business and Administrative Communication (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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