module 2 notes
ProfessorHugh Mac Donald
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Module 2 Adapting Your Message to Your Audience Notes
Who is My Audience?
•in an organizational setting, a message may have 5 audiences:
1) The initial audience receives the message and routes it to other audiences. Sometimes they tell you to write the message.
2) The primary audience will make the decision to act on your message.
3) The secondary audience may be asked to comment on your message or to implement your ideas after they’ve been
approved. Secondary audiences can also include lawyers who may use your message—perhaps years later—as evidence of
your organization’s culture and practices.
4) A gatekeeper has the power to stop your message before it gets to the primary audience. The gatekeeper can be internal,
such as the executive assistant or supervisor, or external, such as regulatory boards.
5) A watchdog audience, though it does not have the power to stop the message and will not act directly on it, has political,
social, or economic power. The watchdog pays close attention to the transaction between you and the primary audience and
may base future actions on its evaluation of your message. The watchdog is usually external.
Why is Audience So Important?
Audience and the Communication Process
•the communication process is the most complex of human activities, and audience is central to that process
•psychological noise includes emotional, intellectual, or psychological interference
•channel overload occurs when the channel cannot handle all the messages that are being sent
•information overload occurs when more messages are transmitted than the human receiver can handle
•Communication is the transfer of meaning: both sender and receiver, using multiple symbols and forms of communication, reach
agreement on the meaning intended.
•The communication process includes a sender, receiver, message, channel(s), and noise. True communication is transactional:
both parties provide feedback for meaning clarification. Noise is ever-present, any physical, emotional, or psychological
interference interferes with meaning exchange.
•Audience focus is the key to communication success. Empathy and critical thinking are crucial to valid audience analysis.
Analyzing your audience’s needs and expectations lets you shape messages accordingly, with positive results.
•Business messages may include 5 audiences: the initial audience first receives the message, or tells you to send the message; the
decision maker, or primary audience, makes the decision or acts on the basis of your message; the secondary audience may
comment on your message, or implement your ideas after they’ve been approved; the gatekeeper manages your message flow—
this person has the power to stop your message before it reaches the primary audience; the watchdog audience has the political,
social, or economic power to evaluate your message.
•You need to know everything about your audience that’s relevant to your purposes for communicating. Use demographic factors,
personality characteristics, values and beliefs, past behaviours, and your own observations and experiences to analyze your
•Audience reaction is also strongly influenced by the perceptions and expectations of the groups to which they belong. These
groups, or discourse communities, create group norms through verbal and nonverbal symbols. Each of us belongs to a number of
very different discourse communities (family, religious affiliation, Facebook, varsity team).
•When you want to understand people in organizations, you need to observe the organizational, or corporate culture. People create
their corporate culture—values, attitudes, and philosophies—and express these through discourse—their stories and behaviours.
•Channel choice is shaped by the organizational culture. However, effective messages use multiple channels, and encourage
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