Why it’s important to know your audience

writing

Presenting out loud in front of a class makes me pretty uncomfortable and it’s something I long to get better at. These days in class I’m learning how to give an introduction on yoguic philosophy and ethics to my students back home. It’s an exercise that I love almost as much as it makes me uncomfortable. And it’s right in line with my new year’s resolution to improve my communication skills.

Today’s article is for those who, like me, need to express themselves in a precise, concise and effective way. Usually, those of us involved in complementary therapies find it challenging to explain what it is we do to people outside of our professional circles. If you find yourself in this predicament, here’s a few things I’ve learned.

The first thing to consider before writing is: who is my audience? Who am I writing for? (Note: this also applies to anything you post on your Facebook business page and, hopefully, your timeline).

Knowing your audience will help you to..

..choose the appropriate tone and language for your text. 

In our daily lives we adapt our tone of voice and our choice of words to the people with whom we are talking to. The same should happen when we present our work.

An example: when speaking with a child I’ll try to be as simple and clear as possible. It is the same when I teach. On the other hand, when speaking to a colleague, we will often utilize specific terminology that a layperson would not understand. I’ve often made the mistake of using professional lingo with laypeople. This has had the adverse outcome of pushing people away rather than bringing them closer. 

Before you write, think about who you are writing to. What will be the most appropriate tone and language to use with you audience? Are you educating newbies? Brainstorming amongst colleagues? Writing a letter to a friend?

..build a relationship with them.

When your address a specific person (or group of people) you are initiating a conversation, which implies the beginning of a relationship. Sometimes we forget that our mission is to serve and we expect our audience to serve us. We ask them to listen patiently while we expose pedantic information that is of little value to the listener. Remember, it’s not about showing off how much you know about X, Y and Z. You can gain credibility just by being helpful to another person. If you want to advertise your services, the best thing you can do is to be of service. Offer up something useful from the start! 

Ask yourself: How can I better serve my audience?

What hurdles can I help them through?

What problem can I help them solve?

..decide what information to share.

Good communication implies listening. When you listen to your audiences you are not only showing your interest but also your level of involvement with them. Sometimes, professionals tend to maintain a distance that isn’t so much professional as it is condescending. I’ve had this unfortunate experience a number of times within my field. It is no fun, especially when you are in the (already vulnerable) position of seeking help.

This is why, as a professional,  listening to your audience’s feedback is of vital importance for your career. It will show you the hopes and needs of the people you work for. You will also gain a lot of insights into how to better serve them.

We are living in an era in which information abounds, but connection and compassion are scarce. Each time you to share content that is both useful and empathic you are doing the world a huge favor and delivering an amazing gift. Own it!

(Tip: if you still aren’t sure who your audience is, choose one person that represents you “ideal audience” and imagine you are writing to them)

This article was written by
Julia Zatta

Julia is a yoga anatomy teacher and bodyworker based in Barcelona, Spain.

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