Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An audience of one

The other day, I emailed a group of half a dozen friends, letting them know that unfortunately I wouldn't be able to make a meeting we'd planned. None of them replied.

It might look as if my so called friends don't much like me. But I don't think it was that. In fact, I'm pretty certain that the reason none of them wrote back to say "sorry you won't be there" was that I had addressed them as a group. Seeing five other names at the top of the email, each individual felt absolved from the responsibility to respond.

Good persuasive writing - the kind that aims to elicit a specific response and achieve a clearly defined result - always addresses an "audience of one".