Your audience is the readers for which you're writing. In a university context, this technically means your professor, but it also extends to other readers who exist outside of the classroom structure. Thinking about these hypothetical readers can help you provide important background information. Ask yourself, What does someone need to know about this topic first, before getting specific details? This background, placed in the introduction, can then prepare the reader for the rest of your paper.
Perhaps the hardest part of writing for an audience is determining the most appropriate voice. Voice includes the words you use and the tone created by those words. In academic writing, you should strive for a formal, professional voice by choosing words carefully and maintaining distance from the reader.
Your writing will change based on the audience. In some writing situations, for instance, you might find that it is more appropriate to be casual. This exercise is meant to teach you how to mold your voice, word choice, and details to any audience.
Exercise: Write a paragraph about your day.
Here is one example:
Today is Valentine's Day. Though I wanted to have a day free of stress and obligations, I slept in until 9 a.m., so I had to rush to get ready for work. As I sat in my office typing, I felt the warm sun through the window on my severely dry winter skin. My husband and I shopped for food and attended a cheese tasting before relaxing on the couch with a movie. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I ended the day with an ice cream sandwich and some hot chocolate.
It is a pretty simple explanation of a day (which just happened to be a fun holiday). But who is the audience? Who is the writer communicating with and writing for? It could be anyone.
Once you have written that main paragraph about your day without thinking about the audience, rewrite it in five new and different ways:
Read over your five new paragraphs. Did you find yourself adjusting tone, level of intimacy, word choice, and detail for each task? You should have. Each task represents a different relationship between writer (you) and audience--and with that relationship come expectations of conduct. Let's break each audience down:
Keep 4 and 5 in mind as you complete your coursework at Walden and develop your voice for an educated, professional audience.