Know Your Audience

By Jay Bransford

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Cor 9:22b

Good communication requires knowing who your audience is, what their communications needs are, and what methods will work best to communicate with them.  Gaining this kind of understanding is what an audience analysis is all about.  How many different types of people (or audience groups) do you need to interact with for your ministry?  It’s very likely that you communicate regularly with financial supporters, prayer supporters, ministry staff, and mission leaders, not to mention your actual ministry target audience.

If you’re like most of us, you have quite a few groups of people you need to communicate with, and they each have unique communication needs and expectations.  It’s not advisable nor realistic to communicate the same thing, the same way, at the same time, to every one of those audience groups.  So how do you determine what needs to get communicated to whom, how, and when?  That’s where an audience analysis can be very helpful.  Let’s start by looking at some of the basic elements to understand about the audience groups you need to be communicating with.  If we use the word “AUDIENCE” as an acronym, it can help us to remember how to conduct an audience analysis.  Look at the table below…

  Key Word Questions to Ask
A Analysis Who are each of your audience groups?
U Understanding What is the audience’s current knowledge of your subject matter?
D Demographics What is their age, education, culture, etc?
I Interest What is their interest in your ministry?
E Environment What communication opportunities and barriers exist? (Think language, culture, location, preferred method of communication, etc.)
N Needs What are the communication needs of the audience?  And what do YOU need from them?
C Customization How should you customize your communications to meet the unique demographics, interests, needs, & environment of the audience?
E Expectations What communication does your audience expect from you?  And what kind of engagement do you need from the audience?
  1. Take a minute to write down each of the audience groups that you need to communicate with, related to your ministry.  The examples provided in the first paragraph above might help you get started.  Congratulations!  That’s the first step in conducting your audience analysis.

  2. Now, make a simple table similar to the table in the visual below and try your best to answer the rest of the questions above from the acronym AUDIENCE.  This may require you getting input from your other team members, doing a little research, and possibly even asking a few questions directly to representatives of your audience groups.  Remember that your answers will likely be different for each audience group.

Comm Plan Chart

  1. Now use the information you collected to plan and target your communications to each of your audience groups.  Your audience analysis should equip you with a clear idea of WHAT you need to communicate uniquely to each group, WHEN to communicate it, and HOW to communicate the message (i.e. in person or via email).

  2. Re-assess the communication needs of your audience frequently.  Their need for communication and your need to communicate new and different things can change at any time.  Make sure to adjust your communication plans accordingly.

That’s it!  You can do it!  You’ll be amazed at how much better your communication will be with a little time spent on analyzing your audience from time to time.

For more information on creating a communication plan, check out the following ALLC article:  Elements of a Communication Plan


* Find more ALLC resources about communication planning at:

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