Understanding Your Audience

Rhetoric is often associated with persuasion such as a politician seeking votes or an attorney arguing a case.  However, rhetoric can also refer to using language to produce an effect in an audience.  In this larger sense, nearly every act of human communication contains a rhetorical element.  Though we may not be asking for votes or pleading for the lives of clients, we do want the people around us to believe that we have to say is worth listening to.  Inspiring that belief in others is a rhetorical act giving purpose to our writing.  We write for a purpose.

The relationship between writer and audience is called a rhetorical situation.  Speaking with others, we receive feedback telling us whether or not people understand our conversations. Facial expressions, changes in body language, and comments they make give us valuable information in communicating.  When we write, we have limited tools, words we choose, grammar and mechanics, and the logical sequence in which we present ideas are the tools we use in insure that our reader interprets our ideas as we intended.

Internal and External Audiences