From Personal to Public Writing: Reports for Different Audiences and Purposes
Whenever you write, consider your audience (who your readers are) and your purpose (why you're writing) as you decide what to say and how to say it.
Review the article on the therapeutic effects of laughter (click here). Then write three reports moving from the objective toward the subjective end of the scale.
- Professional audience and purpose (more public)
First, imagine that you are an occupational therapy assistant in a hospital, and the article about laughter inspires you to suggest that the nursing staff might run a humor wagon. Your supervisor tells you to write a proposal to be circulated among the nursing supervisors before their next meeting.
Write one or two paragraphs describing, explaining, and proposing the idea. Be brief and businesslike, and give clear reasons.
- Consumer purpose, provider audience (less public)
Next, imagine that your elderly father is a patient in a convalescent home where he feels that he is not being treated well. He complains a lot and has angered some of the staff. You can sympathize both with him and with the nurses, and you think this program might solve the problem.
Write a formal letter to the head nurse describing your father's problem and introducing the idea of the program. Offer to help deliver tapes for the program. Be respectful but show your feelings, and try hard to be persuasive for your father's sake. Stay under one page.
- Personal audience and purpose
Finally, imagine that an old friend in a distant state is cooped up at home after an operation and is not recovering very well. You can't visit, but you're concerned, and you want to suggest that your friend should watch comedies regularly.
Write an informal letter that will convince your friend to rent tapes and laugh for an hour a day. Describe the program briefly and explain why you believe in it. Be warm and convincing and show how much you care. Keep the letter under one page.
Read the three papers in sequence aloud to a partner. Listen for the differences of tone and get your partner to help you identify the words that make those differences. Sharpen the differences as you revise and write your final drafts.