What is an Audience?
An audience is anyone who reads, sees, or hears a message (a story or essay, a speech, a painting, and so on).
Types of Audience
There are at least two types of audiences: real and intended. The real audience is anyone who reads or perceives the message; the intended audience is the target group that the message sender has in mind. For an essay, the real readers could be the teacher, a friend, a tutor in the writing lab--even a computerized grammar checker. The intended audience of an essay could be young, middle-aged, or old; male or female; politicians or voters; African-Americans or European-Americans or South Americans. Normally the teacher is not the intended audience unless your goal is to persuade or inform the teacher of something (e.g. to change an attendance policy).
Choosing an Audience
Why is important to write with the intended audience in mind? We all have many ways of talking and writing--we can be formal or informal, concise or detailed, technical, specialized or general. Normally we choose a writing strategy based on who we think of as our reader. Knowing your audience before you write will make the process of writing easier because it simplifies the decisions you have to make. Writing with a specific audience in mind will also give your essay more unity of purpose and style and will involve your reader more directly in your argument. It can also be helpful to write with the real audience in mind; for example, if you know that your teacher has a particular view, your essay could try either to please or to challenge the teacher. If you have electronic mail at your job and you know that the computer systems administrator is reading your e-mail, you might be more careful in what you say about the boss.
How does choosing an audience affect the purpose? If you don't have a particular intended audience in mind, or if you say that your essay is for "everybody"... [continues]
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