Context Analysis Worksheet

Context Analysis Worksheet
Start writing or preparing a speech by analyzing the context that calls for it: if you know your
audience, purpose in writing, genre, and any special circumstances, you’ll find it is be easier to write.
Fill in the clanks in this worksheet, and get started.
1. Who is my primary audience (document is written to him/her/them)?
2. Describe this primary audience in terms of….
a. Information needs (what I must include or exclude):
b. Attitudes about the topic, the situation, the author (me or my group):
c. Values—what “speaks” to the primary audience (time, money, prestige, other):
d. Other characteristics that might affect the way I construct, design, or word my
document or speech (important reading or work habits, expectations, cultural factors,
physical limitations, demographics, situational factors):
3. Who is my secondary audience (readers who support or advise primary audience)?
Sometimes we have a secondary audience, and sometimes we don’t.
If you have a strong secondary audience, then also make notes about needs, values, attitudes,
and other characteristics that you will want to keep in mind while writing.
4. What is my purpose (objective) in writing this document?
What understanding do I want to generate in the audience?
What actions do I want the audience(s) to take?
What relationship or rapport do I want to build or maintain with the audience?
I want the audience to…
5. What is my role in this…
a. hierarchy (Is the audience your supervisor? Peer? Subordinate?)?
b. communication (Are you the advocate? Objector? Advisor?)?
6. What is the genre I am working in (academic essay, technical document, scientific poster,
business presentation, etc.)?
7. What do I know about this genre and how it is usually handled?
Level of formality?
Use if visuals?
Format (i.e., table of context? Appendices, double- or single-spaced, etc.)
Other features?
8. Do I have any constraints or special circumstances to consider when deciding how to
write the document, things like…
a. “political” issues (relationships, decision making)
b. “economic” issues (requirement of resources like time, money, expertise, people)
c. “physical” issues (when and how the document will be read or used)
d. “ethical” issues (accurate presentation of data, arguments, etc.)
Now look back at what you have already filled out as you answer these questions…
1. Based on my audience(s) and purpose(s), what are the important questions that I must answer
in my document?
2. Based on my audience(s) and purpose(s), what supporting details must I include?
3. What supporting information and/or details can I exclude?
4. Any “sensitive” issues that I need to either avoid or be careful when addressing? List them.
5. How am I going to get the action(s) that I need? Do I directly state/ask or work indirectly?
6. What format (“form”) will my document take (memo, letter, email, PDF, .doc, spreadsheet,
slideshow, web page, instructions manual, proposal, report, multimedia, etc.)?
7. What should I remember when designing my document (requirements for spacing, length,
and/or how the document “looks”…headings, spacing, highlighting, graphics, color, etc.)?
8. What writing style should I use? Formal versus conversational? Tone considerations? Level
of vocabulary, sentence structure?