The Six Rules of Effective Communications: Rule One

Content Writing Audience

When approach­ing any type of writ­ing, we fol­low Hake’s six key rules to clear­er, more effec­tive and more engag­ing copy. We will spend the next few blogs explor­ing these rules, start­ing with the most impor­tant rule of them all:

Rule Number One: Know Your Audience

Love thy­self and know your audi­ence. Before putting pen to paper, brain in first gear or even plan­ning to think about think­ing about what to write, you must first under­stand your audi­ence. Your audi­ence are the most impor­tant peo­ple (sor­ry mum) when it comes to writ­ing: If your audi­ence aren’t sat­is­fied then your writ­ing isn’t achiev­ing its pri­ma­ry objec­tive (even if your mum does love it).

But how do you get to know your audi­ence with­out stak­ing out their house and stalk­ing them on Face­book? Easy:

a) Who are they?

Sounds sim­ple but actu­al­ly under­stand­ing who your audi­ence are, is vital. Writ­ing for a tar­get audi­ence of teenage girls will be a lot dif­fer­ent to writ­ing for a tar­get audi­ence of mus­cle-build­ing men. Con­duct stake­hold­er (audi­ence) analy­sis by:

  • Brain­storm­ing those affect­ed by, inter­est­ed in or hav­ing influ­ence over your work
  • Pri­ori­tis­ing those iden­ti­fied in rela­tion to their inter­est in and their pow­er over the topic
b) What do they already know?

Cov­er­ing infor­ma­tion that your audi­ence already know could be a waste of time; whilst assum­ing your audi­ence have an under­stand­ing that they don’t could switch them off. Be acute­ly aware of your own lev­el of under­stand­ing and then ques­tion, ‘but will my audi­ence under­stand this?’

c) What do they need to know?

Be clear on what infor­ma­tion your writ­ing needs to con­vey. A lawyer will require much dif­fer­ent infor­ma­tion from a legal update, from what a legal­ly-inex­pe­ri­enced client will need to know. 

d) What do they want to know?

If your audi­ence aren’t going to be inter­est­ed in the back­ground of your lat­est tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment, then don’t include it. Ques­tion: are your audi­ence a suck­er for the details or do that just want the cold, hard facts?

e) How do they want to know?

Con­sid­er the chan­nels that your audi­ence want com­mu­ni­ca­tion on and the chan­nel best suit­ed for the con­tent at hand. You might love a tweet about your favourite store’s lat­est sale but you might not appre­ci­ate changes to your account being com­mu­ni­cat­ed that way. Equal­ly, if your tar­get audi­ence aren’t on Twit­ter, your infor­ma­tion isn’t going to do much work there. 

f) How will they feel?

Final­ly, it is impor­tant to con­sid­er how your audi­ence feel about the top­ic and the impact that your com­mu­ni­ca­tion is going to have. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions to your employ­ees about con­trac­tu­al changes might invoke fear, unrest and upset – con­trast that with an email to your employ­ees about free ice cream and you will have a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent pur­pose, tone and focus.

Clearer Communication

Under­stand­ing your audi­ence by con­sid­er­ing these six ques­tions, will enable you to design and cre­ate clean­er, clear­er and more effec­tive writing. 


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