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Friday, 11 November 2016 13:03

Know Your Audience

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One of the biggest issues any writer or speaker (and thus teacher) faces when preparing an essay, speech, or class, is: What does my audience already know? In other words, what "background knowledge" do they bring them, when they read my essay, hear me speak, or attend my class?
 
Get this RIGHT, and you more likely to start off on the right foot; your audience will be on the same page with you. But get this WRONG, and one of two bad things happens:

- you aim below them, so they feel insulted and talked down to, or in contrast

- you go over their heads, so they feel lost, bored, and confused. Is this "dishonest" to prepare differently for two different audiences? No. It's not dishonesty. It's common sense, and courtesy. It means you took the time to actually think of what background knowledge the audience has, so you can "meet them where they're at," and then, through writing, speaking, or teaching, help lead them to the next level of understanding. For example, let's say I am preparing a talk about the start of WW II. Would I present the exact same lesson to a group of third graders and a group of eleventh graders? Better not! My whole word choice, introduction, content level, etc, must be different for each group. Again, this applies to writing AND public speaking.
 
I was teaching this concept to one of my online writing classes the other day. To help my students, I asked them to write two passages. They were to be on the same topic, but one was to be at a more basic level for laymen who did not know much about the field, while the other was to aim at an audience with a significant familiarity with the material. I thought both students did a fantastic job. Read the passages below, and ask yourself: which piece is aimed at people with less background knowledge of the topic, and which is geared toward an expert in the field?   **************************************
 
A. My main is the Guoguan Yuexiao produced by Guoguan, a sub-brand of Moyu. The price of the cube is about 350 NTD and the size is 56 millimeters. The Yuexiao is a relatively stable and fast puzzle. The puzzle features an integrated design which is inspired from previous puzzles and introduces some innovations. The cube utilizes the use of an octopus core. However, instead of the tradition knut-tensioning design, it uses a screw. The puzzle also has a center-piece stalk that extends inwards rather than outwards, which increases stability. The puzzle still features the squared-off corners design which is increasingly gaining popularity nowadays. All in all, this puzzle is very similar to the Gans 357, but with higher stability, softer springs, better corner-cutting, and faster speed. The cube is light with a slightly hollow feeling. I chose this cube for my 3x3 main mainly due to its stability and crispy-crunchy feel (Yes, that is a way cubers describe their cubes). B.  rubiks cubeRubik's Cube I am a speedcuber: someone who attempts to solve the Rubik's Cube in the shortest amount of time. Most of the speedcubers prefer one speedcube over the others. Speed cubes are Rubik's cubes that are specially made to satisfy the speed and the feel that speedcubers like. I also have a cube which I use the most. The cube is called Guoguan Yuexiao. The cube was made by a Chinese company. For one's information, most of the speed cubes nowadays are designed and made in China.
The reason that I chose this cube over others is mainly due to its high-quality, feeling, and modern design. With superior performance that surpasses most speedcubes nowadays, it is quite obvious why I chose this cube over the others. --Tim in Hsinchu, Taiwan
 
***************************  A. Which is better? The iphone 7 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 (and no, it's not the Galaxy Note 7)? Well, if you put the two phones' features side by side, you can start to see a difference. First of all, let's start with the display. When we look at display, we look at how resolution and size are considered. For the iphone 7, you get a 1,334 x 750 pixel display with a 4.7 inch screen while with the Samsung Galaxy S7, you get a 1,440 x 2,560 pixel display with a 5 inch screen. Apple 0, Samsung 1. Next, on to the performance. The iphone 7 clearly has the upper hand on this one because of its new A10 Fusion. It's a 64-bit, quad-core processor that Apple says is 40% faster than the A9, and twice as fast as the A8. As for Samsung, a Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 820 processor, with four cores and an Adreno 530 GPU is used. Simply put, Apple's new iphone is a speed monster. Apple 1, Samsung 1. Finally, we will take a look at both of these phones' cameras. After being tested by professionals, it was concluded that the Samsung Galaxy S7's 12-megapixel camera with a wide f/1.7 aperture camera with the all-new dual pixel technology was slightly more proficient in snapping photos and shooting videos than the 12-megapixel camera with an improved six-element lens from the iphone 6S. Apple 1, Samsung 2. Even though Samsung wins in this best of three, IP67 under IEC standard 60529 waterproofness in the iphone 7 does give it some bonus points. All in all, these two phones are both neck and neck. So, you, the consumer, will be the one to decide the final verdict. B.Asian Girl
Which is better? The iphone 7 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 (and no, it's not the Galaxy Note 7)? Well, if you put the two phones' features side by side, you can start to see a difference. First of all, let's start with the display. When we look at display, we look at resolution, which is the number of a phone's pixels from side to side. For the iphone 7, you get a 1,334 x 750 pixel display while with the Samsung Galaxy S7, you get a 1,440 x 2,560 pixel display. Apple 0, Samsung 1. Next, onto the audio. The iphone 7 clearly has the upper hand on this one because of its new feature, the dual speaker. This new design is great for anyone who loves watching videos or playing games. Samsung's new phone, however, has stuck to its roots and had continued using the single audio speaker, which has a relatively poor performance. Apple 1, Samsung 1. Finally, we will take a look at both of these phones' cameras. After being tested by professionals, it was concluded that the Samsung Galaxy S7's camera was slightly more proficient in snapping photos and shooting videos. Apple 1, Samsung 2. Even though Samsung wins in this best of three, waterproofness in the iphone 7 does give it some bonus points. All in all, these two phones are both neck and neck. So, you, the consumer, will be the one to decide the final verdict. --Aaron in Hsinchu, Taiwan
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So what do you think? In both cases, A is the technical version, while B was written for an audience that needed more context and background.  Do you want to improve YOUR writing skills? Contact me today to find out how we can help you...right in your home or office!

Read 3541 times Last modified on Friday, 28 July 2017 19:59
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer

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