• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

Knowing your Audience

To communicate and build relationships, listening matters. Two-way communication allows practitioners to deliver messages and receive feedback. Input from stakeholders shapes future responses.

Communicators who know their audiences develop empathy. They watch for body language, listen for subtle indicators and take note of different opinions. Strong knowledge of audience priorities helps build greater understanding. It shows that nuclear professionals care about what is important to others. Effective communication also clarifies the roles and responsibilities within a nuclear programme. It also makes it easier for all participants to recognize the benefits and challenges.

In two-way communication, participants not only exchange information, news, ideas and feelings. They also create and share meaning. Shared meaning represents a vital link between nuclear technologies and public attitude. When stakeholders recognise that nuclear professionals share their values, they become more open to discussion. Ongoing interaction helps audiences distinguish facts from emotions. It helps professionals consider individual, community and universal concerns.

There is no “one size fits all” directive for communications strategies. The public plays different roles in forming nuclear policy from country to country. In some countries, the public has a direct impact on the formation of public policy. In others, the input can be indirect but nonetheless influential. Still, it is evident that the public will be involved in shaping decisions somehow. Stakeholders themselves choose to get involved based on their perceptions of how they may be affected.

To identify audiences and begin to know them, consider:

  • What are the issues?
  • What is at stake?
  • Who is most likely to be affected by an issue or problem? How?
  • Who is concerned? Why?
  • Who do I need to keep informed? Who do I need to involve? And how will this engagement be done?

Basic demographic details and characteristics of various audiences offer important information to help you make good choices on how to communicate. Education level, income level and geography are among many factors that can influence opinions.

Audiences may also be described in terms of their positions on key issues. Audiences may be supportive or opposed to proposed plans. Often, people are undecided. From the beginning, communication with all audiences can have a positive effect, even if there are not good relations with them or it is thought that they are unwilling to engage. Many audiences will be included in more than one of these dimensions, so it is important to identify ‘overlaps’ in the local network where communication can have a broad impact.

Once project leaders and stakeholders have identified the priority concerns, communicators can help surface the most relevant nuclear science and technology information. Public participation can also help communicators ensure they are solving the right problems with their outreach activities.

Stay in touch