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Audience Analysis


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Audience Analysis
COMM 285
University of Phoenix
7 August 2010

Audience analysis is the first step in any communication process: it gives you the tools you need to shape your product and your message. In order to communicate effectively with your audience, you need to understand who they are, what groups they belong to, and what values they hold.(Locker, Kienzler, 2008) The vice president of Ann Taylor Clothing Stores had a successful approach to dealing with and learning her target audience. She researched her target audience and then divided them into groups and developed a fashion line for each target. Creating information in this manner is not unheard of in the office environment. If a company followed Ms. Krill??™s pattern they would see an increase in production and effectiveness, because the workers would have intimate knowledge of the targets. There are many decisions to take into affect when developing information for a target audience. Throughout the remainder of this paper we will discuss audience levels, individual analysis versus group analysis, and channels of communication. These basic items will assist any individual or company with developing quality information that will be retained by the employees while yielding maximum effectiveness.


The first step in audience analysis is to know or discover who your audience is. As explained in chapter two of Business and Administrative Communications, most organizations have multiple levels, so it is only right that there be varied levels of organizational messages. The first level of organizational messages is the gatekeeper. A gatekeeper has the power to stop your message instead of sending it on to other audiences. A gatekeeper is typically a supervisor or section director/head. The next level is the primary audience. The primary audience will decide whether to accept your recommendations or will act on the basis of your message. You must reach the primary audience to fulfill your purposes in any message. (Locker, Kienzler, 2008) The primary audience is normally a board or committee brought together for a specific project. The next audience level is the secondary audience will either comment or make plans based of the information received. Secondary audiences can be legal teams, inspection teams, or sales representatives. The last two audience levels are the auxiliary audience and the watchdog audience. The auxiliary audience may read and review the message but have nothing to do with the information. An example of an auxiliary audience member would be a person from the logistics department reading a report from the training and development department. The last audience, the watchdog audience, has a political or social responsibility and monitors company business for integrity and trustworthiness. Once you decided the different audience levels one has to determine how they will address them, as individuals or as a group. Each will have a different set of challenges which will be discussed below.


As a speaker it is important to have background information on the people you will be addressing. Each individual being addressed will receive the information differently; it is impossible to please all listeners when presenting. Knowing a person age and skill level will often give a person a foundation to begin planning what format will be suit the listener. Also knowing a personal job requirement can be an asset when developing information. Though all parts of the information we are sharing is important and may play into one another, each member or section may only need a portion of the entire product to move to the next step. In our age of information technology supervisors have their preferred method of receiving information. Some may choose to receive information on spreadsheets and other my want power point slides. Knowing the main receiver will ensure information is set up to maximize their understanding. When dealing with a group demographics play a major role in dissemination of information. Knowing pay information is irrelevant when giving a briefing, but know the company??™s target demographics will be a huge help. Another aspect to take into consideration is dominant figures of a group. Not all members of a group have the same input or knowledge on all the information being discussed. All members should be aware of the all situation, but reality is that most are not set up to be that functional.


A communication channel is the means by which you convey your message. Communication channels vary in speed, accuracy of transmission, cost, number of messages carried, number of people reached, efficiency, and ability to promote goodwill. (Locker, Kienzler, 2008) There are many types of communication channels that are used to disseminate information in a group setting. The most often used in an informal meeting, this type of setting is more relaxed. Minutes are not taken and attendance is not normally required. Informal meetings are rarely publicized and are mainly known by those attending. Informal meetings can be held by teleconference or by small group. There is normally one person guiding the meeting along but participants are allowed to comment at any point without introduction or permission. Informal meetings may also be held away from the office setting. Many decisions are made over lunch, breakfast, coffee, or tea. Formal meetings on the other hand, are preplanned and the topics are normally predetermined. Formal meetings also have objectives that the mediator would like to achieve prior to the end of the meeting. Official correspondence is sent out well in advance to remind and request attendance to a formal meeting. This type of meeting are held by senior company executives and attended by department supervisors or directors.

The ultimate goal of communication is to pass information from one medium to another. In business this theory has been narrowed from one individual, department, or company to another. The items mentioned above are not the total answer to effective communication but will lay a solid foundation for business communication. In summary, it is important to understand what audience levels will be attending a company meeting; of the five discussed our target will be within one of them. Once the audience levels have been determined the next step is to determine the individuals of meeting or the group as a whole. Group meeting in more general and will take less time. Having a basic understanding of each individual, if feasible, will better assist with information dissemination and product development. Lastly, having a good channel of communication is key to passing along a clear, simple to follow, accurate message.


Locker, K, & Kienzler, D. (2008). Business and administrative communication.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin


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