Your Turn Challenge Day 5: The Art of Audience
I spend a surprising amount of time helping people walk through the mental preparation required to walk into the room and knock people's socks off with their message. (See yesterday's post on Hutzpah!) I was working with a woman who is pitching a new idea to some folks internally, and the questions I asked her were something like:
- How well do you know them? And, what do they think of you?
- What kind of year are they having? (What kind of day will they have had?)
- What biases do they bring to the conversation? What do they currently believe about what you're saying?
- What do they expect from you? What do they expect from ANY person walking in? (And are those different?)
- Are they storytellers? Data-people? Emotive? Analytic? Artistic? Skeptical? Defensive? Open? Conservative? Liberal? A-political? Bottom-liners or mission-folks? (Of course, everyone's not any one of these, but you get the picture.)
- Ultimately - Where are they, and where are you, and how do we create a bridge that they freely walk across?
It's Speaking101 to "Know Your Audience." Yep. But it's Speaking1001 to know the Art of Audience. The Art of Audience calls upon intuition and emotional intelligence in a way that challenges the best of speakers, because it requires us to be truly present, and respond. We have to step away from our own agenda, which feels beside the point. But it's not; it's essential. The Art of Audience asks us to adjust your content so that it resonates AND pushes; to meet their eyes and speak your truth in a way that is both bold and welcoming. To respect them enough to step into their world - to be with them in that - and then ask them to come along with you somewhere else.
You have to first cross the bridge TO them, in order to bring them back with you.