To make sure your resource is targeted as clearly as possible to your intended audience, you may wish to consider the following ideas.
Limit the number of messages
It is important to be clear about the main goal or purpose of your resource. Give your audience no more than three or four main ideas per resource, which all support this goal. If you need more ideas, it’s best to divide your resource into discrete sections. Stick to one idea at a time and focus on what your audience needs to know or do. Avoid lengthy lists and long explanations.
Offer the most important information first
Summarise the most important information at the start of your resource. Tell the audience the best actions to take to solve concerns, and explain why the information and actions are important.
Tell audiences what they need to do
Clearly state the actions you want your audience to take. Use simple verbs and concrete nouns (things that you can experience through your five senses). Where possible, use an active voice, where the subject does the action. For example:
- Wash your hands after touching raw meat.
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them.
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
Tell your audience what they should do, rather than what they should not do. For example, instead of ‘do not ride your bicycle without wearing a helmet’, write ‘wear your helmet every time you ride your bicycle’.
Tell your audience what they will gain from using the material
Tell your audience how your materials will benefit them. For example: you will learn what your rights are so you can ask your case manager the best questions.
Choose your words carefully
Keep it short. Use words with one or two syllables when you can. If possible, keep most sentences to between eight to ten words, and limit paragraphs to three to five sentences. Write as though you are talking to a friend, as a conversational style has a more natural tone and is easier to understand. Don’t use technical jargon unless it is absolutely necessary, and always explain it first.
- Do say: you could get sick if you are near chemicals.
- Don’t say: exposure to chemicals could cause adverse health effects.
Although simplicity is a good thing, it is still important to respect and value your audience. Don’t talk down or preach, as people are less likely to act on information if they are made to feel bad about their current behaviour or situation. Use a tone that encourages the audience and emphasise small, practical steps.If your audience is likely to include young people, culturally and linguistically diverse clients, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, or other specific groups, it is best to target your language and visuals to best reach the community you serve.
Visuals help to tell your story
Visual content can help your reader to quickly identify with your content. Your audience may not always be keen to read long sections of text, so audience-targeted pictures, diagrams and cartoons can help your audience to engage with and understand your ideas. Choose the best type of visual for your material. Cartoons may also be used well to convey humour or set a casual tone, but you should use cartoons with caution – not all audiences understand them or take them seriously.