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The General Population

It’s interesting to note that when I write, my inclinations are to use scientific principles and logic to make an argument. However, from my work with the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition, I’ve learned that this technique doesn’t always work. I’ve recognized the need to carefully understand your audience, who they are, what knowledge they will come with, and never write for the “general population.”

One piece of advice that I learned from my rhetoric classes is this: when you define your audience as the general public, your audience is actually you. There is no such thing as a true “general public” and so when we think this way, we are actually imagining others through our own lens. Rather, we should carefully consider the audience and stay away from thinking that a piece is written for the “general public.”

One of the most important considerations in writing is the emotional context. As humans, we are not nearly as rational as we would like to think.

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2 Comments

  1. Zubin

    Wow! This is very helpful advice! I have always wondered how to write to a general audience, and the idea of the audience being yourself is a great way to think of it. Thank you!

    • Sahil

      I think you misunderstood what I meant to convey — my advice is actually NOT write for the general audience, because it cannot exist. If you try to write for the general audience, you inevitably end up writing it to yourself, which is not an effective way to communicate. Instead, we should deeply think about who will actually be reading the piece, what are the warrants and underlying assumptions that you share, and where you may differ. Hope that this clarified the article!

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