If you are in the professional communications field and are worth your salt, you “know your audience.”

You have probably heard that phrase so much that you instinctively nod at the words like one of Pavlov’s dogs. But it isn’t the phrase you need to be worrying about, the thing you should concern yourself with is what that means.

Can you define what it is to know your audience?

What does that mean? Does that mean you know what kind of coffee they drink in the morning? Does that mean you know if they prefer flip-flops or running shoes?

Knowing your audience is a phenomena that extends beyond their superficial preferences. It is something that sticks to their soul. It is not knowing that they like a bold blend of coffee with two french vanilla creamers, it is knowing that they like that because that is what their grandmother drank when she visited every Thursday morning.

Being able to hit the audience on a sensory level creates a bond between you and them. It provides your audience with that feeling “it just feels right.” Whether you are trying to persuade in a political argument or just trying to get hired, it is understanding that feeling your audience gets that is key. You need to know why that person is not in favor of gun control, or why that employer is excited when you said you prefer Linux over Microsoft.

Next time you are communicating with an audience of any kind, remember that you need to be able to do more than just picture that person in your head; their quirks and idiosyncracies. You need to know why they have those ins-and-outs so that you can connect on a completely different level.

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