Types of Audiences
When preparing documents, it is important to remember potential audiences for your work. Awareness of the differences between Intended and Unintended audiences may impact how an author presents or includes information in a document, and may make a difference in the event of a legal issue concerning the document. Also, awareness of a complex audience will ensure that an author’s writing does not exclude any potential readers.
Intended vs. Unintended Audience
Intended audiences are best thought of as the people you are initially writing to. It is the audience for which your document is intended. Unintended audiences may be anyone that comes across your writing at any point in time. In a professional setting, its important to be mindful of the unintended audience of any written work. This includes any email, memos or proposals produced in the course of business. It is in your best interest legally to remain professional in every document you produce as these documents may be used as evidence in court against either the author or the business from which they originated.
Writing for a complex audience is different from academic writing. In academia, there is a specific audience for most pieces of writing, generally an instructor, teaching assistant, or a fairly small group of peers. In a professional setting, you will often write for a complex audience of people with different backgrounds, specialties, and expectations. With that in mind, avoid using terminology that is too technical so you don’t unintentionally exclude portions of your audience. This can become increasingly difficult when writing for larger and more complex audiences.