Do Your Audiences Have Faces? Can You See Them?

Does it have something to do with the lighting?

Whenever I get to speak or perform in front of an audience, there’s this gentle tug-of-war between two opposites:

  1. Focusing in on a face, moving to another face and so on. I really want to see if I am connecting with each person. However, unless I have what I’m doing TOTALLY ingrained in my mind, I can “lose the groove”, so to speak, and end up either stumbling, heading “down a rabbit hole” in my story, or “vapor-locking” altogether (that is, stop with a total blank in my memory and delivery, and stand there like a tree…). None of those alternatives is very attractive.
  2. Kind of “defocussing” the individuals and scanning the group without any real attention paid to any one person. While this can aid in concentration and focus, it can advance the impression that I’m just “putting on a show” and am not interested in the group.  Believe me….they can tell.

Like I mentioned earlier, maybe it has something to do with the lighting. In many cases when I speak or am performing, the light around me is turned up and the the light around the audience is turned down. Sometimes this has to do with the venue, and sometimes it has to do with convention (“the spotlight on the band”, for example). Depending on the circumstance, I might have some kind of control over it and other times I don’t.

When it comes to working with an online audience, I do have some control over “the lighting” and so do you….
If you’ve done your research and you know who you’re connecting with, you’ve already gone the first step to notching up the lighting on your audience. You have a fair idea of what they find valuable about paying attention to you. You’ve prepped your content, tone, and everything else about what you wish to share based on this research, your conversations with them to date, and some maybe some specific information shared with you by some key customers and influencers. The light in the house goes up a bit more as a result.

Bryan Kramer coined the term “Human to Human” (H2H) regarding marketing and as to be differentiated from “Business to Business” (B2B) or “Business to Consumer” (B2C). Thinking about this in the context of the uniqueness of your audience members, it not only “turns up the lights” some more, but implies that you do indeed focus a bit on the faces in this audience. A big challenge that businesses encounter here is getting this to scale. The bigger the business, the bigger the potential audience (hopefully…)! How can you pay attention to that many faces without either defocussing or running out of resources to deal with each one?

Focus (yes, I know I’m using this term a lot here….) is one way. Trying to appeal to everyone ends up making fans of no one. When you did your audience research, you discovered several segments or niche audiences. Tailor this message/workshop/story to one of them. If you did the right kind of work ahead of time, these folks will be the majority of the ones paying attention this time. Setting the expectations and communicating them clearly up front will help here….hence the emphasis on targeting and honing your value to them. It isn’t just the heart of your message and delivery. It includes the work ahead of time and afterwards, too. There will likely be conversation your sharing instigates, and this is a good thing! So, this broadened spotlight allows you to treat these folks as special and further build your relationship with them.

Think this through: how can you “bring up the house lights” on your audience? 

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