Audiences for your research are building blocks for bridging knowledge to actionable science. To develop a strong communication strategy and determine a multi-faceted approach, you will need to understand with whom you wish to communicate.
- Many audiences will be interested in your research.
- Each will require different approaches to engage them effectively. The form of communication that works with one audience will flop with another.
- It is important to recognize and understand the different perspectives of each audience and how they might engage with your research.
An audience-centered analysis can help you think about the perspectives and motivations of each unique audience. An audience analysis involves identifying an audience and adapting a communication product (for example, written commentary, speech, or graphic) to their interests, level of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs.
The following spreadsheet and list of questions will help you better understand each unique audience and inform appropriate methods of communication that serve the needs of your audience(s).
Step 1: Determine All of your Audiences:
- Identify all unique audiences. Approach this step with careful consideration. By understanding the needs and expectations of your audience, you can frame your communication product(s) as relevant and engaging. Try to avoid “general public” and, instead, focus on a narrow audience to understand their biases and values. Who needs the information most, or who needs to change their behavior or make a specific decision?
- Store this list where the team can refer to it as needed.
Step 2: For Each Unique Audience Brainstorm The Following Questions:
- What is the objective of the communication?
- What is the desired response from this audience?
- WIFT: What’s in it for the audience? Are you solving a problem? Are you raising awareness?
- What are the anticipated questions and objections?
Step 3: The Audience
- Who influences the audience(s)? How do they connect to your audience and what do they know? Do they accurately or inaccurately portray a message? How might they react to what you have to say?
- What is your relationship to the primary audience?
- What questions will the audience ask?
- What does the audience already know about the subject? How are they involved in the matter? (are they farmers who are propagating the problem or are they a community on the front lines of facing this issue?)
- What are the audience’s biases about the subject?
- What are the audience’s stylistic preference? Informal? Formal? Visual? Verbal? Written?
- Who are the secondary audiences?
Step 4: The Purpose
- What do you want your audience to do after receiving your communication?
- Is the purpose of the communication primarily informative or persuasive (influence)?
- If persuasive, do you need to reinforce the audience’s current belief/practices, change that belief/practice, or create a new belief/practice?
- If informative, what are the key points this audience needs to know in order to achieve your goal?
Step 5: Determine Credibility
- How much credibility do you have with the audience?
- What are the sources of that credibility? Position within organization? Technical expertise? Your track record? Relationship with key people? Personal characteristics? Values similar to those of the audience?
- How can you increase or reinforce your credibility with the audience?
Step 6: Understand Context
- Does the audience’s organization or culture dictate how you should deliver the message? Orally? Written? Multimedia?
- What political factors need to be taken into account?