FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE
It’s a cliche, of course. Writers, artists, and performers of all sorts (including politicians and business speakers) are forever being told that they have to “find their own voice.”
The premise in all this advice is that each one of us is a unique individual with our own way of seeing the world and sometimes by speaking our own truths in our own way we can help other people find theirs.
Your “voice” is your style, how you present your own truths. Those of us who want to communicate our thoughts to the world spend a lot of time thinking on that.
We spend a lot of time trying to figure out not only how to say our own say, but also we keep trying to figure out how to find an audience that will hear us when we do.
Communication is a two-way street. There’s you doing the sending and there’s all those other guys doing the receiving (and talking back).
Here are some thoughts about this from a varied group of people who have been working in their craft for a while.
All of them have worked on finding their own voice. Each of them has found and cultivated an audience who hears them.
Perhaps one of their ideas will spark some of your own.
TO FIND YOUR VOICE, USE IT
Artist and online entrepreneur Austin Kleon, in his book SHOW YOUR WORK: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity And Get It Discovered, had some hard-earned advice. After years of trying to figure it out he says, “….now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow.“
This YouTube video, “How to Find Your Own Voice,” was published by Bedros Keuilian, the president of Fit Body Boot Camp International, which is among the fastest growing fitness chains in the world, apparently.
Keuilian focuses on marketing strategies in his videos. In this one, Keuilian points out the importance of being you. (Everybody else is taken.)
USE YOUR VOICE TO FIND YOUR AUDIENCE
As a writer, a speaker or an artist, your incentive for developing a voice is so that people will recognize you, listen to you, hear you. Madman-writer Dan Harmon advises, “Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.“
In this YouTube video clip published by FidelWriting, Harmon is giving a talk at the Nerdist Writers Panel. This bit of silliness is Episode 107, “Structure of a Sitcom.” In his advice to young writers Harmon does a wonderful riff about storytellers….
Buried in the laughter is a truth: Your voice is yours. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.
This little gem’s from Roz Parry, a consultant in communication and team-building. She agrees that the best way to find your audience is to speak with your own voice. “You have to be true to your deep beliefs, especially in the face of adversity. That way you attract the people to you who value you and what you stand for. They come to you, not the other way around.“
SUSSING OUT YOUR AUDIENCE
Finding and speaking with your voice is only half of the communication equation. You also need to know something about the audience that your work attracts.
Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold was the Secretary-General of the United Nations for most of the 1950’s. Hammarskjold pointed out another truth, “The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you hear what is sounding outside, and only he who listens can speak.”
Todd Henry is the founder and CEO of The Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams generate brilliant ideas. He regularly speaks and consults with companies about how to develop practices and systems that lead to everyday brilliance. He’s written three books: ACCIDENTAL CREATIVE, DIE EMPTY and LOUDER THAN WORDS.
Henry says, “It’s not the responsibility of your intended audience to adapt to you, it’s your responsibility to adapt your idea so they can receive it.”
So, how do you suss out your audience? Listening is a big part of that. So is research.
This Kickstarter YouTube video is part of a collection of helpful tips and advice from creators about common Kickstarter project questions.
In this one, “Knowing Your Audience,” filmmakers Karyn Parsons , the creator of “The Janet Collins Story;” Adam Weber and Jimmy Goldblum, co-directors of “Tomorrow We Disappear;” David Thorpe, director of “Do I Sound Gay?” and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, director of “Call Me Kuchu” tell how they worked to find and build the audiences for their crowd-funded projects:
Here’s a poem about getting the voice right….
When you get it right, when it all goes well,
And everything falls in place,
There’s a shift inside of you
That opens up another space.
You’re an empty, hollow flute
That the winds blow through and through,
And the words that appear on the page
Don’t even feel like you.
You think another voice
Has sounded through your throat,
And all the notes and pauses
Seem to effortlessly float.
The variations and the themes
Are from some other place,
Some other who in some other when,
Wearing some other face.
It is a comfort then
To understand and see
That the self you think you know
Is more than you think it could be.
The music of the spheres
Contain the songs you sing
Stop shrinking yourself small,
Stop down-sizing everything.
Suns blaze and frontiers sprawl.
And you…you’ll get big enough inside
To contain and reframe them all.
By Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: Disembodied Voices by Jeremy Brooks via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE:
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18 thoughts on “FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE”
Hi Netta, it’s such a relief reading your site about finding your own authentic voice. So many people are trying to be somebody else when the haven’t even discovered their own innate talents. Especially like the video you posted of Bedros Keuilian. He gets right to the point of being true to talking from a place of honesty. Your poem ‘voice’ makes me think of being in flow.
Hey Dushan: Thanks for your visit and your comments. Please do come again…
That is very informative to those who are interested in writing it gives guidance.
The poem is very encouraging, believing in yourself is the best thing that one can do for themselves. Such poems and content are good because they give one the reason to press on, and after reading people are changed.
Hey Zenith…thank you for your visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. Please do come again….
Very informative article Netta and loved the poem! I find that the only way I can really write about my passion is to write it with honesty, humility, and happiness. If I try to convince my audience of what I am communicating or trying to sound like a sales person, it just backfires. I do research my audience to find out what they need in my own niche and I find that research inspires me to find my voice and share with them what I have to communicate in a way that it inspires them to engage and enjoy what I write. Thanks!
Hey Lidia: Thanks for your visit and your comments. You’re right. Doing sales-speak tends to backfire. The people listening to you develop ear-covers or something. You can only connect if you stay a person and you see your audience as people too. My thought, anyway.
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I really like the way you wrote this. I think in a way we all have a hard time finding our “voice” but when we figure out that we need to just be ourselves, that seems to open up a new door. The video and book recommendations are wonderful and well spoken. The poem is beautiful and really hit home for me – I think everyone can relate to this. Thank you for sharing your positivity.
Hey Katie…thank you for your visit and your comments. Please do come again….
Netta…thank you for this awesome post. The videos were very inspiring, funny, and right on point. I really love how you address the idea of finding your own voice, but also discovering your audience and courting them. Knowing who will respond to your particular voice, once you find it, is the other side of the equation and is just as important.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Melo Ann. I do appreciate it.
Please do come again….
I always struggled with the whole know your audience thing until recently.
Once anyone at all started actually reading my website then it was like I started to know who my audience was. You know what I mean?
I guess there is such a thing as having an intended audience but then the actual audience is a whole another thing altogether.
Like for example I write about gym equipment and so I usually assume that people have some basic understanding of exercising . Because why would people find my website unless they’re looking for that specific thing?
But sometimes people do find my website who are not as familiar with the subject.
I like what you said about finding your voice too. Take care and nice website!
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Charles.
You’re right. Sometimes, the people who actually read (and respond) to your posts are not the people you thought you were talking to. It can be a revelation, that.
Often, though, the ones who you think are interested in your site really are the ones who have a mission and are looking for something. As you say, they need a specific thing, and your site provides answers for them. They get their answers and they go on. Sometimes they buy stuff or they thank you and that’s it. If they had a good experience with you, they come back.
In either case, it’ll be your voice that draws them in and keeps them coming to you.
Please do come again.
The photos throughout your website are great. I love photography and having something to see while I’m reading keeps me engaged.
Finding like-minded people to reach with my blog has been one of my biggest problems. The information in here was helpful, and gave me some great tips. This was always the hardest thing for me.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, DashDNations. I am so glad the post was helpful for you.
Please do come again.
Most of the time we can not find our audience because we’re so focused on ourselves. I believe we should understand what our audience needs, feels and cares for. Then adjusting our pitch to them and on top of it delivering our unique message. Thank you for this interesting read.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Abel. I’m just a beginner in exploring the gathering of an audience who appreciates my work. Mostly, the only way I’ve found so far that has worked in other endeavors is to always behave and make offerings that are congruent to my own self-definitions and my own sense of authenticity and stuff like that. I also have found that it helps to listen a lot to what other people say and think about my offerings.
It doesn’t always mean I will change what I do, necessarily. (As Henry Ford or somebody like that once said about producing products or services or whatever, people really don’t know what they want. They just think they want what they’ve already got — only maybe just a little bit better.).
If you’re trying to do something new or different, you do have to show everybody what you’ve got and ask if they like it and find out why. It is a cool dance and the very best fun.
Please do come again.
Great article, Engaging Your Audience Design an effective introduction Engage the audience — get them interested, give them a reason to listen. How? Describe a scene or a character. Tell a story. Share a personal experience. Relate to a recent event. Piggyback on a previous speaker’s remark or theme.
An interesting set of hacks and tips for engaging an audience, Emmanuel. Thanks for sharing.