Think of your potential…audience.

When I was taking Business Administration classes at NIU, one of the required courses was Business Writing. As you may guess from my presence here on the blog, I really enjoy writing, so this class was one of my favorites. I don’t get the impression that everyone else shared my love of writing press releases and business correspondence for grades, but I thought it was so fun! /Nerd

Anyway, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received came from that class: When you write something, don’t think of your [known] audience, think of your potential audience.

This point was emphasized for me just this morning as I was driving to work and NPR played a recording of someone in a Goldman Sachs hearing reading outloud a profanity-ridden email one of their employees had written to a colleague. I’m sure it never crossed that guy’s mind where that email would go.

This idea of thinking of the potential audience has influenced all of my postings on the Internet, from my blog to Facebook to Twitter to the emails I write on a daily basis. Sure, I (usually think I) know who will read what I write, but who else out there could be reading it – and how could it be interpreted? What information am I making public about myself – and would I want someone (anyone!) in the world to strictly not know this? If so, I don’t post it!

This means that if I post about how annoying someone in the grocery line is, I need to be prepared for that person to read it and be upset about what I said. If I send an email, I need to be prepared for it to show up on CNN. And, if I Tweet my location, I need to be prepared for someone to walk up to me, introduce themselves, and know everything about me that I’ve posted publicly online.

That last one is a little scary, and the article I linked is worth a glance. It’s a good reminder that our audience is not always who we think it is. It doesn’t mean shut down your Internet presence and hide safely in your darkened house. It just means that public sharing is exactly that: sharing with the public. So, the simple advice I leave you with today: be mindful of your potential.



~ by Anthea on July 29, 2010.

2 Responses to “Think of your potential…audience.”

  1. Good advice!!

  2. you have always nice things to post.

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