Target Audience: Definition, Types & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari

Debbie Notari received her Bachelor’s degree in English and M.S. in Education Literacy and Learning for Grades 6-12. Debbie has over 28 years of teaching experience, teaching a variety of grades for courses like English, Reading, Music, and more.

When we are writing, we need to understand who our audience will be. Knowing our target audience helps shape the tone of our words. In this lesson, we will both define and analyze how to choose a target audience.

Definition of a Target Audience

A target audience is the person or group of people a piece of writing is intended to reach. In other words, it is important for a writer to know who will be reading his or her writing. This audience is the person or group of people the writer is aiming for or trying to reach. When a writer knows the target audience, he or she will shape both the purpose and tone of the writing to match the audience's needs and, sometimes, expectations.

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  • 0:01 Definition of a Target…
  • 0:22 Choosing an Audience
  • 2:40 Purpose
  • 3:14 Summary
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Choosing an Audience

When students write papers for academic purposes, they sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the teacher is actually the audience. Although the teacher reads and grades the paper, it is better to think of the other students in the class as the actual audience, or maybe the general population at large. When students think of teachers as their target audience, they tend to write less interesting papers!

Let's take a hypothetical situation. What if you were asked to write about how a student can succeed in school? Knowing your target audience in this case is very important. For instance, what if your target audience is a group of second graders? The way you choose your words would differ radically from a paper instructing college students on how to succeed in school. Let's take a look at an example. This paragraph might work very well for the average second grader:

'Hey, kids! Do you want to know how to get good grades in school? Busby the Owl has a few tips for you!

  1. Always do your homework.
  2. Follow the rules.
  3. Listen to your teacher.
  4. Eat a good breakfast.
  5. Be a good team player.

When you know what to do, you will succeed in school!'

The tone of this speech is definitely geared to children, but it is pretty clear that the same speech would not be well-received by the average college freshman. The target audience was obviously young children. When writing for young children, the writer should use language that is simple and clear. Now, let's take a look at how to cover the same topic for college freshmen instead of elementary students:

'Incoming freshmen, here are a few ideas to help you stay on track and have a great first year in college.

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