July 15, 2024


The Finance Effect

Analyze Your Audience Before Developing Your Message

Analyze Your Audience Before Developing Your Message

Whether communicating by the written or spoken word, it pays to analyze your audience first. This will help ensure your message is received as intended and that it achieves the goals you set.

1. Create a profile of your audience

Especially important when communicating outside your department or organization. Try to determine the size of your audience and their areas of responsibility. It’s also helpful to know of any cultural or language differences that exist.

Communicating to a larger audience usually entails a more formal style and format. Smaller groups, on the other hand, may be more comfortable with an informal approach. In either case tailor your message to their needs. Human resources managers, for example, need different information than production supervisors.

Audiences that share your expertise should understand your material with little difficulty. Those with different specialties, however, may require additional background information. While this may bore some in your audience, a worse problem is to leave others totally perplexed. Your goal is for everyone to understand your message.

Communicating to those of different cultures or languages requires special care. Minimize the use of idioms, jargon, and slang. Also, watch your hand gestures and body language. A common gesture in the United States may be offensive to someone from another country. Consult a specialist if you are concerned about how your gestures may be perceived.

2. Plan for audience’s reaction

The effect your message will have determines how you present your information. If your message is of a positive or neutral tone, you may offer your recommendations in a straight-forward manner and early in your message.

If you need to deliver bad news (plant closings, price increases, and such), provide more supporting evidence, and gradually ease into the material most likely to cause a negative reaction. Make sure your audience understands the reasons for your decisions and suggestions.

Also, anticipate the needs of decision makers and include any necessary data. This can include profit/loss figures, production quotas, utility costs, and so on.

3. Anticipate and address questions

After crafting your message, review it for any gaps that may generate questions. Find ways to incorporate the additional information in your material without detracting from your message. Follow up with an e-mail or memo as needed. A review by someone outside your department may identify particular issues or questions to address.