What Oprah Teaches You About “Audience”

2008-12-31-la-audience-01Consider you almost always have an audience. I use the term “audience” to reference any person who receives your messages. That could be spoken, written, live or archived words. They may be accompanied by sound, video, photos, graphics, slides, and links (or not).

I use the term audience with reverence and respect, because all around you are people who have the power to give you exactly what you want. That could be the ideal job or the go-ahead for the biggest deal of your life. Whether your audience is one person – a colleague, investor, prospect, hiring manager, client, boss or a guy sitting on a bus with you, or a crowd of 2 people to 7 billion: this life is your show and we are your audience. If you choose to live it that way: fully actualized, empowered and rewarded.

What’s the purpose of calling other people your audience, when it comes to your conduct, and daresay your performance and success?

The concept that we are your audience helps you erect a positive and powerful framework of your role in our lives. When you take each of us on as your audience, you take responsibility for our experience of you.  And, thus you control it.

For example, Oprah doesn’t leave home to get on stage or screen and wonder what she’ll talk about. She’s got all her talking points arranged in an arc that her audience will likely find compelling. She knows or she’s been briefed about who we are, what we’re interested in, what our hot buttons are, what we find entertaining and what we find meaningful.

She’s clear about what gaps in our lives we are hoping to fill by tuning her in or attending a function where she’ll be.

Ask yourself now:

  1. Do you know anything important about your audiences?
  2. Do you know why we are here and what matters to us?
  3. Do you know what gaps in our lives we are hoping to fill by tuning you in or attending a function where you’ll be?

Oprah sees herself as a star. But that’s not enough. She recognizes her audiences have needs she can fulfill, and she chooses to think she can fulfill them uniquely. With those expectations of herself on behalf of people she’ll be with,  she prepares to succeed. That conceptual framework gives her a tremendous advantage in thinking over almost everyone, even some other broadcasters who are largely talking to themselves.

Before she crafts her program and before she says one word (written by someone else or not), she shoulders the one-sided responsibility for our believing the “meeting” with her was a success in our minds. Note where the success meter is: our minds, not her mind.

She fully embraces a motive before going into every encounter. Her motive is almost always to create a transformation of some kind in our minds, bodies or spirits – because that’s her personal brand promise.  That personal motive is why she’ll do more than pass along information. She’ll do everything to help us experience what she wants us to know and do. She’ll reduce our resistance by admitting there’s both upsides and downsides. She’ll keep it lively when it should be amusing or solemn when it should be consternating. She’ll plan a great opening, streamlined content and a great closing so we come away feeling completely served.

Even in her latest role, Oprah takes responsibility for her relationship with her audiences. It’s how she continues to build her reputation every day – and attract endlessly engaging, productive and prosperous opportunities. So can you.

Are you seeking to prove up your personal brand promise when you’re speaking or typing, showing us pictures or sending us links?  Are you intentionally building your reputation with your audiences?

Here’s how to start:

  1. Make a list of the number of encounters, planned and unplanned, that you’ll likely have this week.
  2. Who is likely going to be in your audiences?
  3. How well do you know them – do you have to read up on them to know them better?
  4. What are their hot buttons or their pains, fears and burning, unfulfilled desires?
  5. Can you help them see the consequences of not taking action?
  6. Do you know what emotional transformation you’ll need to activate – and how to do just that?
  7. What content and approach can you create so they’ll be in the state of mind to do what you want them to do – exactly as you want them to do it?
  8. How will you help them take action?
  9. What time do you need – perhaps more than one encounter?
  10. Will you be prepared to set up the next link so that they come back to move further with you?

Starting today consider yourself a star. Take responsibility for our experience of you. No matter how minor or major your role is during any interaction: you’ll see signs of success. And as you get used to the spotlight, it only gets bigger, better and easier each time you meet.

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