Writing For Your Audience Is Important

You really need to decide who’s going to read your stuff and speak directly to them.

I was part of a job where we needed to promote a certain type of healthcare. The audience was a general one. There was a slight skew toward politicians and the medically trained because they could back this particular system. The video also needed to educate common-folk like you and me and have the option to be translated from English to other languages.

I wrote a rather casual script. I replaced heavy jargon with colloquial language so we could hit everyone, especially those viewers who don’t understand medical lingo.

The client kept adding in jargon – which is fine, you want to seem like you know what you’re talking about, but you don’t want your message to go over the heads of your audience, especially politicians (who aren’t very bright).

After some of back-and-forth, the script and idea evolved (as it often does). The direction was to use an analogy to help explain the idea. We would compare this particular healthcare system to an orchestra.

In an orchestra, the string, brass and woodwind sections must pull their weight. If one fails, the whole orchestra fails.

Overall, this analogy is a good one.

We can all understand the idea of three pillars working in tandem to create one amazing system. But is an orchestra analogy the best way to explain an idea to people in a remove village in India? Perhaps something more relatable would be better. If you were trying to get musicians on board, an orchestra analogy is perfect!

How are you going to write for your audience?

Think about how they speak. A 14-year-old girl speaks differently to an 80-year-old man. Men speak differently to women. Car enthusiasts have a special language and when you speak to them, you need to use that language.

If you’re an expert in a particular field, it will be easier for you to write for that audience. The moment you seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll lose your reader.

In my story, we needed to sound credible to the medical industry while appealing to those without a medical education (or education at all). It’s a fine line.

In AFL, you ‘mark’ the ball. As soon as you say ‘catch the ball’, your AFL lover will think you have no idea what you’re talking about.

When you’re writing, run every word through a filter. Ask ‘is this how my reader speaks?’

We're taught to write a certain way in school but in my experience, people don't like reading that style of writing - especially when you're teaching someone how to bake a cake.

"Ignite the oven and wind the knob to 180 degrees because momentarily, you will be required to insert the cake mix. The method follows..."

The right language will help you sound genuine and credible, you’ll keep your audience engaged and maybe, one day, you’ll change the world with a new healthcare system.

See more about Iain Duguid. For any freelance work, contact him here.

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