Letter: Audience

Letter: Audience

Understanding the Audience for Letter Writing

Who is the Audience?

  • The audience in a letter can range from an individual, such as a friend or family member, to a larger group, such as a company, institution, or even a broad public audience.
  • Identifying the audience correctly is essential as this dictates your tone, language, formality, style, and content of the letter.

Tailoring the Letter Content

  • Consider what the audience would know about the topic. If the audience is not familiar with the subject of the letter, sleuth in necessary background information.
  • Think about your audience’s expectations from the letter. This can help shape your approach, deciding what to include or omit, and how to articulate your points.
  • Always be respectful and considerate of the audience’s viewpoints, even when you disagree.

Language and Tone

  • The choice of language should mirror the level of formality required by the audience. A letter to a friend can use informal language, while a letter to an organisation calls for formal register.
  • The tone should be appropriate for the audience and purpose, whether it’s friendly and casual, authoritative and assertive, or professional and polite.
  • Be aware of any jargon, acronyms, or specialised terms. If necessary, these should be clearly explained or replaced with simpler language for understandability.

Presenting the Argument

  • Detailed, clear, and tactful arguments are typically well-received by all audiences. You need to reason effectively and provide evidence where needed.
  • Use rhetorical devices to connect with the audience. Rhetorical questions or emotive language can make your letter more engaging.

Connecting with the Audience

  • Treat the audience as an active participant in your communication. Use “you” to directly address the audience.
  • Get the audience invested in your message by relating to their values, experiences, and interests. For instance, if you’re writing a letter to a headmaster regarding school policy changes, showing awareness and consideration of students, staff and parental concerns will strengthen your case.
  • Keep the courtesy markers (‘Dear’, ‘Yours sincerely’, etc) suitable for the audience to start and end your letter on a respectful note.