Communication Methods and Your Audience. Presentation Notes

Background InformationCommunication Methods and Your Audience
Presentation Notes
NOTE: Customize the following information for the presentation. Bullet-pointed
information is provided in this order in the PowerPoint slides.
Understanding your target audience’s needs and characteristics are essential to getting
your message across effectively. This lesson focuses on helping you determine how to
appropriately communicate your message, based on your audience’s characteristics.
Why would you want to describe the audience for which you are developing messages?
Suppose you are someday the executive director of an agricultural commodity
association in your state. You decide it would be a good idea to put together an
awareness campaign to educate members of the public about the contributions of
agriculture to the state’s economy and quality of life. Before you can even begin to
think about the message, you have to decide whom to target. What are some potential
 The general public?
 Community leaders?
 State legislators?
 Members of the media?
 Urban, suburban, or rural?
 Old or young?
The answers to each of these questions will lead you in a different direction when it
comes to deciding what to put in your message.
As you begin the process of analyzing your audience, consider these questions:
 Who are the audience members?
 What are their educational backgrounds and experiences?
 What do they know about my subject?
 What do they expect of my communication?
 How can they best be reached?
 What do they need and value?
These questions help you start the audience analysis, as you identify more
characteristics of your target audience. These audience characteristics are divided into
two categories: demographics and psychographics. Demographics can be thought of as
characteristics about audience members which are hard to change, such as gender, age,
income, education level, and place of residence.
Psychographics combine the attitudes and values people have with their lifestyle
choices. Attitudes are a combination of the beliefs and perceptions used to evaluate
something, such as what a person thinks about a particular product or the opinion a
person has about something. Lifestyles are how people like to live. For example, you and
your parents may like to live in a particular area, in a particular kind of house, and may
engage in specific recreational activities. These lifestyle choices are shared with others,
and they may influence your attitudes and perceptions. Over time, researchers and
marketing communicators have developed numerous categories that help describe how
beliefs, lifestyles, and experiences help determine a person’s outlook on life and how
people might respond to messages that are communicated to them.
If you can identify audience members’ demographics and psychographics, you can make
assumptions about how best to develop a persuasive message targeted to them. You
may wish to use an audience analysis matrix to help you identify key characteristics
about your audience and then how to develop a message for that audience.
students. Discuss demographic and psychographic characteristics
of audiences. Audience Analysis Matrix is provided as a separate
Audience Analysis Matrix
Gender (male female)
Education level (high school, college,
graduate/professional degree)
 Ethnicity
 Geographic location (where you live—urban,
suburban, rural)
Values and beliefs (in general and in relation
to the topic you are communicating)
 Attitudes (specific perceptions and/or
misperceptions about the topic of your
 Lifestyles (interests and activities shared by
your audience that may influence their
attitudes toward your topic)
Information sources and channels
What sources of information does your
audience access to learn about your topic
 What deliver channels does your audience
use to get information
Prior knowledge and experience
What do audience members already know
about your topic
In general, how informed are they
Have they had previous experiences that
may be related to your topic
 Who is an audience you would target a message to?
 What are characteristics of your target audience?
 What about agricultural audiences? What are their characteristics? How do they get
Ecuadorians are migrating away from rural areas and into cities. One way that
agricultural communicators are reaching out to urbanites is by showing them how they
can stay connected with plants. In major newspapers, articles are being run that show
how to grow certain plants, and there are plant seeds attached to the newspaper, itself.
In rural areas, though, communicators have to consider their audience’s characteristics,
such as how they access information. In this video, we will see how the administrator of
one university’s outreach program in a rural area has to consider the audience in getting
information out about how to promote the program. ESPOL is a public nonprofit
institute of higher education, focusing on academic, scientific, and technical areas of
instruction and research.
ESPOL identifies community leaders, visits these leaders who then are to promote the
program to people in the community. This can be seen as an example of the Two-Step
Flow of Communication (going through an opinion leader [step 1] to reach your
intended audience [step 2]). Opinion leaders depend on their personal characteristics,
such as socioeconomic
One aspect of psychographics relates to values and beliefs. In the small town of Salinas
in the highlands of Ecuador, residents are dealing with different communication
methods that are impacting their cultural values, especially values of younger and older
generations. In this short video, we will hear from a representative of ESPOL about how
the university communicates to rural audiences, and we’ll also hear about the cultural
values and communication affecting Salinas. This information is provided by Father
Antonio, one of the original two Italian priests who helped Salinas grow economically
over the past 30 years.
Major highlights from the video:
ESPOL representatives meet three weeks in advance of an outreach course with
community leaders.
The diploma for the course provides an incentive for the attendees.
Farmers in rural areas do not have access to information technology.
ESPOL uses radio to get out word about the courses, in addition to face to face.
Residents of Salinas is struggling with trying to communicate with young and
older generations and maintaining traditional values.