You Always Have an Audience

This post was written by Kendra Raguckas, Senior Director of Learning at The Latimer Group.

Recently, we had a wonderful experience facilitating a written communication training for the leadership of a local fire department. As we do with all our learning experiences, at the end we asked what made the most impact on them during the training. One comment stood out to me the most. “I did not know those reports had an audience.

As a learning professional, I live for those breakthrough moments because you know you have significantly impacted the way someone thinks and is likely to behave. In this instance, however, the shift was not only for the participant… it also had a big impact on me. “Knowing your audience” is a foundational principle in The Latimer Model, and everything we do here at The Latimer Group. And because of the fact that we breathe that concept every day, it had never occurred to me that someone may not know that they always have an audience, in all of their communications. I assumed this was obvious, to everyone, all of the time. And most of the time, it probably is obvious. But there are clearly times, no matter how few, when it might be easy for people to forget oh, SOMEONE is going to actually read this.

Here is another example. Many organizations use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. And those who do almost certainly update the database many times throughout the day, with notes, contact information, and other nuggets that are crucial to remember. Often we might enter those notes in some sort of shorthand, from our perspective, that will make sense to us. Because we are using those notes to remind ourselves what we learned. The drafting of the notes is often driven by I want to make sure I remember this… the operative word there, being “I.”

But occasionally, we are reminded that the purpose of putting the notes into the CRM (instead of, for example, our own personal work notebook), that someone else on our team might read those notes. In fact, we hope they WILL read those notes. So, if we take a step back and look past the initial goal of just capturing what we heard, we should realize that there is in fact an important audience for those CRM notes… our colleagues, and anyone on our team who also needs to understand the nature of that client account.

In other words, we always have an audience. Always.

So, when it comes to your business writing, whether it is notes in a CRM, or seemingly benign report that you assume will never again see the light of day, don’t ever forget that every piece of business writing has an audience. Which means that every piece of business writing should also have some goals and audience understanding included in its drafting.

Always think about your audience. That’s the key to consistently powerful business communication, written or spoken.

Have a great day!

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Kendra Raguckas

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.