Defining Your Audience (Or How To Plan The Worst Birthday Ever)

Skeptical beardy stock-photo man at a lame party.

Credit: WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock

This is part of the new regular column on science communication. To suggest a topic, email 

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re in middle school. The spring formal is approaching and if you don’t have a date, you will literally die ohmygod. Your goal is “find someone to go to the dance with me”. You can’t just walk into the cafeteria and scream “SOMEONE GO TO THE DANCE WITH ME”. (I mean, you can, but…) You need to be tactical. You need to have a specific audience in mind.

A poorly defined audience (or one that is overly broad) is the root cause of the vast majority of issues I run into when I’m working with someone on their science outreach. From “I don’t know where to start” to “I can’t get anyone to listen/subscribe/come to my talk/donate,” my first question is always going to be “who is your audience?”. My next question is going to be “okay, now can you narrow that down”?.

The temptation is always going to be to have the broadest audience possible. If you aren’t appealing to EVERYONE you might miss out on potential opportunities! You could turn away a potential audience! You could miss out on the chance to be the most beloved science communicator that ever communicated!

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WhySharksMatter speaking at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

As part of their exhibit entitled “Megaladon: Largest Shark That Ever Lived“, I will be giving a public education talk about sharks at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The talk will be at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9th.

The talk is approximately 45 minutes long, which leaves plenty of time for questions.  I am also available for dinner after the presentation to discuss shark conservation issues with readers and museum attendees.

I’d love to meet some of our readers, and it would be great to see new friends from Science Online 2010 again.

Seating is limited, but tickets are available by calling the Museum Box Office at 919-733-7450 x212($6 general public, $4 Members, $3 students)

I hope to see you there!