Introduction to Building Common Ground

What you’ll learn to do: evaluate rhetorical approaches to building common ground

The intended audience for an argument includes those individuals or organizations that authors are trying to persuade. Arguments sometimes have unintended audiences, as well. Authors who know their intended audience, and who keep in mind possible unintended audiences, compose arguments that are more effective at provoking a response, whether that response is simply creating agreement with the author’s position in a reader’s mind or spurring the reader to take action to bring about the author’s desired change.

Once you know who your audience is, you can do research to learn about what strategies and techniques of argument have been effective with your audience or a similar audience in the past. Such research involves analyzing arguments in order to understand their intended and potential unintended audiences and then making analogies between the audiences for arguments identified through research and your own audience.