Why Is It Important to Consider Your Audience? It’s Simple

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Bezos Blueprint" by Carmine Gallo. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it important to consider your audience? How does it contribute to the simplicity and clarity of your communication?

If you want your audience to understand and act on your message, keep it simple. Being simple doesn’t mean dumbing down your ideas—it means minimizing the work your reader or listener has to do to understand you.

Keep reading to learn the importance of keeping your audience in mind when you communicate.

Why You Should Know Your Audience

Why is it important to consider your audience? Gallo argues that it’s the primary way to make your message as simple as possible. Picture someone who’s smart but not as informed or interested in your topic as you are. What do they need to know, and what’s the easiest way to explain it to them? Gallo says that asking these questions will keep you from including a lot of detail and complexity that will ultimately dilute your point and confuse your audience. Remember that your reader or listener doesn’t need to know everything you know.

(Shortform note: When considering your audience, it’s also helpful to think about your purpose: What exactly are you trying to accomplish with this communication? In Thank You For Arguing, rhetoric professor Jay Heinrichs explains that knowing your purpose will help you craft the kind of appeal most likely to persuade your audience. If you need to win your audience over to your side, show them that you’re trustworthy and knowledgeable. If you need to change their minds, use logic and evidence to appeal to their rationality. If you need to spur them into doing something, use emotional appeals to convince them of the need for action.)

How simple should your message be? Gallo suggests that you express your ideas simply enough that the average high school student could understand them. Gallo notes that Bezos’s communications are remarkably simple, even when discussing complex technology, services, and financial data. He explains that, when he analyzed Bezos’s shareholder letters with a formula that determines a recommended reading grade level, the letters scored as appropriate for grades 8 to 10. Note that “readability” in this context has nothing to do with the content of a written piece—it’s a measure of elements like word length and sentence complexity that determine how hard the piece is to read.

(Shortform note: Gallo’s advice to write simply about complex topics is corroborated by the fact that most news publications write at a high school level—including sources like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.com. This is true even though these outlets address complicated issues in their content, proving that expert writers who make their living conveying information to adults typically follow this recommendation.)

Why Is It Important to Consider Your Audience? It’s Simple

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  • How to improve your communication by using Jeff Bezos's principles
  • Why you should start a project with a press release
  • Why you should ban PowerPoint in favor of storytelling

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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