If you don’t have an audience in mind when writing or preaching, odds are good you’ll end up without an audience at all.
This simple truth has done more to help me as a communicator than any other principle I’ve learned over the years. Writing and preaching aren’t just about creating a great piece of work. They’re about leading an audience to the response you want. They’re not about impressing, they’re about connecting.
The importance of audience was beaten into me by an English professor I had as an undergrad. Before we wrote a paper, he made us write a short paper about our audience! Who did we want to read this paper? What did we know about them? Why were they reading this? What did they want to get out of their reading? What did they understand about the topic already? How old were they? Were they going to like what I had to say? What was I trying to accomplish? And the list would go on and on and on.
The funny thing was, the more we defined our audience, the better our papers got. By the way, I don’t just mean we get better grades. I mean we wrote more clearly and effectively. And I was hooked on the power of understanding an audience.
So, before you write that next sales pitch, sermon, blog or email, think about your audience. Ask yourself some questions about them and then write to them not for them. That simple pattern will pay huge dividends in your communication.