Understanding Your Audience


An understanding of your audience is critical for a communication to be successful. In a business context we may have to alter a our communication to suit a target audience. For example, imagine you were solving a registry error on a PC for a HR assistant. You solve the issue and feedback to the HR assistant as to why the error occurred and how it might be avoided in the future. In this example they accidentally installed a piece of malware software that corrupted elements of the registry. It would be far simpler to explain that they should not install unauthorised software, rather then delve into the intricacies of the registry and the technical magic you performed to resolve the problem.

If an exchange server had gone down and you managed to resolve the issue, your manager would require the technical detail of the problem and how you resolved the issue.

In the video below, we can see Moss and Roy from the IT Crowd answering support calls in very different ways. Roy is simplistic, rude and abusive while Moss is polite but uses far too much technical jargon, which may alienate a customer.

Your Organisation

Think about the audiences that you engage with in your organisation. There are likely to be many and the way in which you communicate with them will change depending on their needs and the context of the communication.

Previously I worked in state education as an IT Operations Manager. This involved me working with many other stakeholders across a varied organisational structure that contained many different types of audience.

Below you can see a quick mind map showing a condensed overview of the Hillcrest School organisation.

As you can see there are a lot if different potential audiences!

Each of these audience will have different needs that may can range from being significantly different from each other to being very similar. It is useful to do an audit of their potential needs, especially if you have larger support team or are training new staff. 

Audience Needs

An example I can provide where verbal communication was significantly more difficult was a the WorldwideBuddhist Conference (2013) held at our school. Buddhists from all over the world convened at our school over the summer holidays and converted the halls into temples.

We had to communicate with people that spoke many diverse languages, a
cross large geographical distances and time zones. Here are some of the languages that they spoke:
  • Vietnamese
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • French
  • German
  • and many more
How do you think we were able to ensure that this event was a success?

Task 1

Create your own audience mind map: 
  1. Detail the different audiences that you and your organisation are likely to communicate with.
  2. Identify internal and external audiences
  3. Identify methods of communication (verbal)
  4. Describe how the method of communication might differ depending on the audience