The Dos and Don’ts of Writing for Your Audience

- February 19, 2015

When writing any type of content, it’s vital to do so with a specific audience in mind. Without taking this initial step, it’s likely that whatever you end up producing will not be nearly as effective as it could have been. This post will address some common mistakes writers make when writing for a specific audience and some easy ways to correct those issues.

Do Not

  • Use excessive jargon. When you are an expert in a given field, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has the same grasp of a topic that you might, particularly when they aren’t there to object. For this reason, avoid using overly technical terminology whenever possible. Avoiding industry speak will not only help clarify your points, but it can also make your content more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Make assumptions about your audience. Although you may have written for a similar audience in the past, it doesn’t mean that your new audience comes in with the same level of understanding or looking for the exact same return. Each new piece of content should be tailored to a specific audience.
  • Write to impress. Don’t get us wrong, your writing should leave its mark on an audience due to its subtle qualities, like clarity and concision. But, it’s important to avoid using obscure or complicated examples and polysyllabic words simply for the purposes of dazzling your readers. A showy style of writing will not only keep you from achieving your purpose, but it will also hurt your credibility.


  • Research your audience. While this might appear obvious, it’s stunning how often this initial step is overlooked. When writing for your audience, you must first understand who they are. Are you writing to a colleague, a client, or a future business partner? What is their level of expertise with the subject? What are they hoping to take away after reading your content? All these questions can help you begin to narrow down your audience.
  • Understand your purpose. Before even writing a single word, it’s important for you to grasp the intended goal of a piece of writing. Without determining the purpose, it will be impossible to make stylistic considerations like tone, diction, syntax, and voice. You should also always attempt to match the purpose with what the audience hopes to take away. For example, if your audience is simply trying to become more informed about general social media practices, it won’t do much good to deliver something on the intricacies of Google+.
  • Attempt to anticipate questions. During the revision process, it’s important to try to spot any unclear or inadequate places in your content. Remember you won’t be around to answer any questions your audience might have when they’re reading, so if at all possible you should try to make sure there aren’t any. Have a colleague read your piece and give you feedback on areas you could clarify, offer more support, or give another example.

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