Analyzing Your Report's Audience and Purpose Audience Analysis and the Invention Stage Exercises
Model: Example Report Topic Proposal (memo) This section shows you an important technique for the early stages of your report-writing project: the invention stage, brainstorming what you can say about a reoport topic you have chosen.
Early in your planning for a technical report, you must identify the specific audience that will read your report and the purpose your report will serve. To analyze the report audience, you must consider these questions carefully:
If you are not familiar with analyzing report audiences and purposes, return to the section where this is covered. Understanding the audience and purpose of your report becomes very important when you narrow your report subject.
- Why does the audience need or want this report?
- What is the audience's technical background (knowledge, training, first-hand experience)?
- What is the report's purpose?
- What kinds of information will have to be included and excluded from the report, considering the audience?
- How should the information in the report be presented?
Step 3. Briefly describe your audience, its background, capabilities, and interest in your report. (See the step-by-step method of analyzing audiences.)
Once you've picked a subject for your report, the next step is to list the topics related to it. During this stage, the "invention" or "brainstorming" stage, use the following suggestions to explore your report idea:
- Let your report subject itself suggest topics: for example,Subject Possible topics The sun its temperature its composition its unusual phenomenon its relative size Ultrasound in its physical properties medicine equipment used medical uses advantages
- Free associate on your report subject; sit back, relax, and let your mind wander freely around the report subject. Keep scratch paper handy, however. Don't expect the ideas to come all at once in a ten-minute session: ideas for reports come at the oddest moments--in the shower, on the bus, in your backyard, in your car, or on your bicycle.
- Use an invention checklist like the following. If you ask yourself the questions listed below, you'll be less apt to overlook important topics; and, with use, these questions eventually become almost automatic.
Here is an excerpt of a brainstorming session in which these questions were used:
Comprehensive topic list for a report on wind-powered electrical systems how does a wind-powered electrical system (WPES) work? what are the steps in its operation? savings: discuss the amount of money that can be saved using WPES relationship between average windspeeds and electrical output: what happens when there's no wind, only very light breezes? too much wind? basic parts: rotor, generator, tail assembly, tower different manufacturers of WPES: how to get a good system and avoid being ripped off dimensions, materials, construction of common models of WPES; sensitivity to low wind speeds historical background on WPES: the time when more WPES were being used, just before rural electrifi- cation in the 1930s; who were the first developers? when has interest in WPES reappeared? why? two general class of wind machines: lift and drag machines lightning protection of WPES aerodynamic principles as they apply to WPES understanding weather patterns and seasonal and geographical factors affecting wind principles of electricity: circuits, generators, types of current, meanings of terminology Federal tax credits and research support in wind systems research and WPES purchase by consumers
- Pick any report topic from the list in Figure 1 or pick a topic of your own, decide on an audience and purpose for a report on that topic, and then use the Checklist of Invention Questions (Figure 2) for brainstorming the topic (jot your ideas on scratch paper).
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