Technical Writing Tip – Understand your Audience

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Written by John Lafferty

John Lafferty, Northridge Quality and Validation

Read time: 2 minutes

Understanding your Audience – Stepping into the Reader’s Shoes is the Key to Good Technical Writing

• To understand the audience you must first analyse the audience. This is a vital first step in the preparation of a good document.
• Your analysis should assess how familiar various readers will be with the subject. From this, you should identify what you will need to explain and how much detail you will need to give.
• Next, ask yourself – what is it that I want my readers to do when they have finished reading the document? The actions that you wish the readers to take will dictate the most important message (known as the Key Message) of the document. Clarify this Key Message in your head before going any further. Write out the Key Message and keep it in front of you while you write.
• Place the Key Message at the beginning of the opening paragraph of your document (usually the summary) so that it is clear to the reader that this is the Key Message e.g. Prototype A is the preferred option for Generation II of the Gizmo, this option is the only one of the five tested that fulfils all the design brief mandatory criteria.
• Make sure to analyse your audience on paper, not in your head, this will help to clarify your thoughts and ensure that you do not stray from the Key Message.

Technical Writing Skills Training Course

Northridge Quality & Validation and our training partners, SQT Training are running a comprehensive training course on Technical Writing Skills. Note: This course will be delivered via a Virtual Classroom (not in person).

Course Title: Technical Writing Skills Course Date and Booking: Course booking and future course dates can be found on the SQT Training website.
Course Content: Our structured, practical programme will help you to identify the key message you need to deliver in your written document and to deliver it clearly and concisely in a way that will ensure it is understood.

technical writing online virtual course

John Lafferty – Technical Writing Course Tutor

John Lafferty is the tutor on the SQT Training Ltd. Technical Writing Skills course. John also delivers courses in areas such as Quality Systems, Process Validation, Software Validation and Quality Risk Management on behalf of SQT. John runs a Quality Management Consultancy, Northridge Quality & Validation, which specialises in providing assistance to the Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical sector.