Thursday, May 31, 2007

A word I really must stop using

Like everyone in my business, I frequently and unthinkingly use the word audience (often in conjunction with "target") to refer to the people towards whom a piece of communication is directed.

But I really shouldn't. Why? Because it conjures up all the wrong mental images: a large group of people, sitting contentedly on comfy seats, looking forward to the entertainment which they have chosen to spend their evening enjoying, and for which they have probably paid handsomely. True, they may leave at the interval, if they're disappointed in the show; but for the first half at hour at least, they'll be determined to have a good time.

Good persuasive writers don't write for an audience. They write for an individual reader, who probably has better things to do, and who will certainly be off like a shot if her attention isn't immediately engaged.