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[letter]Identify Your Audience In Letters

In a letter it is pretty easy to identify who your audience is; it is usually the person you are writing to. However, you must also consider any additional readers. For instance, if you write to a member of congress about a constituent problem, the office of the member of congress may attach a cover letter and send it on to the constituent without any further explanation. Therefore, you must write so that both audiences understand your letter.

Identifying your audience should do more than just cause you to make sure the terms you use are clear. It should help you focus on the reader's needs. You should do this by thinking about what your reader knows about the situation now. Then think about how to guide them from their current knowledge base to what you need them to know. Take some time, before you start to write, to think about what the reader will need to know. To help you do this, try answering the following questions--

  • Who is the reader?
  • Is there a secondary reader we need to give information?
  • What does the reader(s) already know about the subject?
  • What questions will the reader(s) have?
  • What's the best outcome for my agency? What do I need to say to get this outcome?
  • What's the best outcome for the reader? What do I need to say to get this outcome?