Recently, we looked around on the Internet for a group exercise in audience profiling, but we didn’t find one. So, we developed our own. It worked well, and so I thought I’d share it.
Jura Editorial Services was helping several UN organizations conduct a meeting of experts on health care for women subjected to violence. We were seeking, among other purposes, to obtain advice on a planned World Health Organization practical guide to clinical care of women subjected to violence. To help everyone find a common focus, we wanted to involve the group in profiling the audience for this guide—thus, the need for an exercise.
Here’s some of what I wrote after the meeting to my friend and mentor, training guru Ben Lozare at the Center for Communication Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:
“Since you were so helpful in pointing me toward information on audience segmentation and profiling, I wanted to report back to you on our meeting in Bangkok and the profiling exercise that we conducted there. It was quite successful. We had a good group, and that made a huge difference.
“I began by briefly describing audience segmentation and profiling and the difference between the two. Then, I defined the segment in general terms—primary health care providers responding to violence against women. I briefly identified four providers in different settings that the organizing group had agreed upon before the meeting. The four were: a briefly trained community health care provider in a remote village, a nurse in a family planning NGO, a nurse or doctor in an urban clinic, and a doctor in a district hospital.
“Then, the group of about 25 broke into four subgroups of five or six people each, one group for each of these providers. We asked one person in each group to assume the persona of that provider. We asked the others in the group to interview this "provider." I offered a list of possible interview topics, such as how much training, what's the facility like, and what supervision, plus attitudes about caring for women subjected to violence, and needs for doing a better job. We also asked each group to choose another person in the group to then introduce the provider to the whole meeting.
“This worked well. The group got into the spirit of it, as evidenced by the fact that each "provider" spontaneously chose a name and a country or region for herself or himself. Because the point of conducting this exercise early in the meeting was to create consensus and shared appreciation of our intended audience, that evening I wrote "Remember our providers" across the top of a flipchart page and the names of these visualized providers below. This remained posted on the wall. People did refer back to these providers throughout the rest of the meeting. The exercise was fun for everyone, brought people together, and, I think, did remind everyone of the situation on the ground.”