How to know your audience

Are you talking to me? This is often a question we ask when we don’t know if our colleagues are speaking to us. Do you know who you’re speaking to when you produce your e-newsletter, web content and other printed and digital materials? Knowing your audience is extremely important to the success of your materials. You’ve been told you need to know your audience, but how do you do that?

It’s simple. Knowing your audience means knowing who’s in your pews on Sunday morning, who’s visiting your church’s website and who’s following your church or pastor on social media.

Knowing your audience also requires you to know the different ways to connect with each audience. You need to clearly communicate with your audience in simple and concise language that is easily understood.

In this edition of the Presbyterian Communicators Network, we share tips on how to know your audience members as well as the do’s and don’ts of communicating with your target audiences.

Getting to know your audience

Identify your audience members

If you’re the pastor of a church, you probably already know your audience. Some members may have been attending the church for years. But what about newer and younger members? When was the last time your church developed a congregational profile? Conducting a survey to learn more about the demographics of your congregation is extremely helpful. Knowing the demographics of your congregation can help you develop the necessary messages and utilize the most effective communication vehicles to reach your audience. The key items of information to gather from your survey include each member’s:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Cultural or ethnic background
  • Preferred method of receiving communication from the church.

Understand your audience

Content, content, content! If you’re the staff person assigned to produce print and digital publications and posts, content is always top of mind for you. When you understand your audience, you communicate more successfully. Understanding your audience helps you better determine:

  • What information to include in your newsletter, web or social media posting.
  • If the information you’re sending is information the congregation needs to know or cares to know about.
  • The call to action expected from your congregation.

Do’s and don’ts of communicating with your audience

Understanding your audience will allow you to better plan your content — content that is more likely to get read. Understanding your audience will also help you write to members in a language they understand about things that interest them. Your goal is to create content that informs and engages the congregation.


  • Use relevant words or phrases.
  • Make your copy concise.
  • Provide details.
  • Ask the audience what they want to hear from you and how they would prefer to receive communication from your church.


  • Use acronyms.
  • Make your content so lengthy that no one takes time to read what you have to say.
  • Make your digital publication so long that individuals have to keep scrolling on their electronic devices.
  • Forget to include great photos!

Your printed and electronic materials should reflect your congregation. They should convey your church’s story and tell how the congregation is transforming lives. Tailor your content to people who are interested in the information you’re sharing. Remember that this information shouldn’t be limited only to those already attending your church but to individuals who may be interested in becoming a member of your congregation.

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