The context of your communication tasks, along with their audiences and purposes, will help you make decisions about those tasks. Identify and analyze the context of your communication task in order to make the most effective decisions.

How do I identify the context?

Context includes the numerous elements that surround your communication task. To identify the context of your communication task, consider these questions [1]:

  • Why are you developing this communication?
  • What constraints and opportunities do you and your audience face related to time, tools, space, and other considerations?
  • What setting will your audience be in when they encounter your communication?

How do I analyze the context?

We’ll build on the example we used in Purpose. As a reminder, your supervisor has asked you to train a new member of your project team on the procedures for conducting project meetings. You have also decided to fill her in about any difficulties she may have with other team members.

Suppose your engineering trainee is hearing impaired. How does that change your training techniques? You may decide a written training manual is best. You may also decide to discreetly inform the rest of the team about her circumstances so that when you introduce them, they will be sensitive to it.

These and other decisions about context will help you communicate more effectively in the workplace.


J. L. Bowie. The rhetorical situation part 2—Purpose and context. Screen Space. [Online]. No longer available.