Identify the Audience
Be specific about who you are talking to and their information priorities.
Identify the Audience
Be specific about who you are talking to and their information priorities. The content and layout of the document should be tailored to meet the needs of this audience.
But why is this important? What is the characteristics of your audience?
There are four areas to consider when thinking about your audience: 1) language and jargon, 2) the amount and type of information, 3) audience type, 4) reading level.
- Language and Jargon- be aware of the use of the language of your intended audience. Academic reports written in a university context tend to be structured, formal, objective, impersonal, complex, and contain technical language. This may be appropriate if you intend your one-page report for an academic audience, but if your audience is a non-profit, then you would need to adjust the language to less formal, reduce the amount of jargon, and ensure the ideas are straight forward for someone who does not specialize in the field. Additionally the use of discipline specific terminology in your report will add to its technicality and formality. A great example of this is when I was presenting a webinar, and used the “Goldie Locks Theory” as an example. During the question and answer portion of the webinar, I was asked what that meant. I assumed my audience knew what the Goldie Locks Theory was, making this assumption caused some of my audience members confusion. The next time I presented this same material, instead of referring to the Goldie Locks Theory, I broke the theory down into a simple explanation, therefore addressing my audience at the correct level.
- Amount and Type of Information- when deciding the amount and type of information put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Challenge yourself to think about what information they need. If the information is not needed, then don’t include it. Most of the time with one-page reports, less content is better. By reducing the amount of information included, you can highlight the important pieces you want your audience to take away.
- Audience Type- in addition to thinking about the use of language and amount of information, also think about the type of audience. A few examples of audience types are academic, kids/families, government, or community, just to name a few. Let’s apply one audience type to see how this works, if you are creating one-page report for a local non-profit childcare program, the audience may be more focused to parents with children, you would not want to write a very technical report with lots of jargon and data, the report would better suit the audience with non-academic language, extra visuals, ideas broken down into easily digestible pieces, and simplified charts.
- Reading Level- we’ve already skimmed on this when thinking about our audience type, information, and language, but do keep in mind the reading level. For a community piece, you need a reading level of an 8th grader based on studies. So keep this in mind when creating a report, think of all aspects of your audiences needs.
Keep in mind, there may be more than one primary audience for your one-page report. If your audience characteristics vary, you may want to consider creating two versions.