Know Your Audience

Ever see an adult have an intimate conversation with a preschooler? Invariably, the adult crouches down to be on the same level as the youngster. The adult’s tone of voice changes, and so does their vocabulary. Simple words spoken at a timbre that engages the child at the child’s level. Chances are, the child’s caregiver — a parent or guardian — is close by, watching and listening to the conversation.

Here, the child is a first audience, and the caregiver is a second audience. Both are interested in the way the adult is communicating as well as what is being communicated. There might even be a third audience, someone who would be interested in the conversation but who wasn’t there in person, such as an older sibling or spouse.

An astute adult would realize that the child was not the only audience, and consider everyone when talking. I talk about identifying your audience in my most recent Toward Humanity blog post, “Identifying Your Three Presentation Audiences” (or download the PDF instead). The better you can identify your audience, the better you will be able to connect with them. And that’s the point: connecting.

As always, I’m interested to hear what you think.

One Space After, Not Two

You were probably taught to put two spaces after a period. Most likely, this happened because the person teaching you used a typewriter. (You remember those things, right?) There was a reason for that.

Typewriters used monospaced typefaces — in other words, every letter took up the same space, both thin (the letter ‘l’) and wide (the letter ‘m’). Because of this monospacing, using two spaces after a period made it easier to recognize the start of each sentence when reading.

Word processors, however, use variable spaced typefaces where letters take up only the amount of space they need. Because of this, it only requires one space after periods (and colons, by the way) to recognize the start of sentences. This is the way type was set starting with the Gutenberg press! Thus, only one space is needed. But old habits die hard…

Still not convinced? Look at any professionally published magazine or book (this newsletter or my position papers too). One space.