Write for your Audience

SignsWrite for your audience.  And for most audiences it is very important HOW you say something — even simple word order can matter.

Above is an example of my point. The electronic exit door to our clinic broke a few days ago. Someone put up the sign on the left (“old sign”) but it had no effect on patients — they either didn’t read it, or only pushed the button or only pushed the door.

So I changed the sign (“new sign”) and put the important word first — “BOTH” so that the patient knows they must keep reading to find out what “both” means.  And sure enough, almost everyone opened the door properly after I took down the old sign and put up mine.

Even with posts, many people won’t read to the end.  So if your audience tends to not read your whole post before commenting, make sure you state your main point right in the beginning of the post as well as at the end..

Question to readers: Give us your own example of writing for your audience.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

7 responses to “Write for your Audience

  1. There was a fire at my work a while back and the office was moved up the street. We used signs to direct people. People are not good at even noticing signs right in front of their noses … mind-blowingly not good.

  2. Oh, so you think that is bad? Try putting up a sign that says wet paint and watch what happens.

    Try this sign:

    IF you do NOT press both the button and the door at the same time you’ll be NOT let inside and we will watch and laugh at YOU.

  3. You should add, “If you still do not get it, your an imbecile.” 🙂

    Most exterior doors, particularly glass doors, for commercial or public buildings will have a push bar on the door for exiting the building while having a pull bar for entering. I have become so used to seeing these particular bars, but occasionally I will come across a door that has them reversed which leads to an embarrassing face plant into the glass door.

  4. @Jasonjshaw,
    Perfect. Maybe another factor is that signs are thrown in front of us everywhere (advertizing etc) so we just ignore them now.

    Yeah, putting negative in a sentence can throw its meaning, can’t it?

    @calledto question,
    Actually, even one in the clinic was stunned at the general stupidity. We thought of starting with the words: “Idiot Test:” in bold letters. That may have worked better.

    But as you say, we are all idiots — well at least occasionally. 🙂

  5. tolworthy

    One person’s idiot is another’s genius. I support the first group of people. They consciously avoided information overload.

    Should we also mock people who don’t read EULAs before clicking “I agree”? I am autistic, and very aware of information overload. Neuro-typical people, by definition, are less so. I often see people assume “if somebody does not come to the conclusion I do, or does not use the methods I do, that person is stupid”. I see this among writers of text books in particular. The choice to filter out some information is a rational one.

    And let’s look at the worst case scenario: nobody opens the door. They don’t come back to your business. Your business goes bust. Another generation of businesses arises with better signage and less willingness to mock the hand that feeds them. That’s evolution at work. IMO.

  6. @tolworthy,
    Good observations. Thanks !

  7. Back to Zero

    Did anyone ask how you can press a door in your second sign?

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