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Audience of One August 8, 2014
The ballet studio was large and easily accommodated a class of fifty students. I was practicing turns in the largest studio at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB). Inside turns, outside turns, arabesque turns and whipping into a wild torrent of chainé turns.
People passing in the hall often stopped to look in through the windows. Parents, spouses, friends and lovers, other dancers, instructors, the onlookers can be anyone.
Through the glass this one woman was watching me. I felt annoyed and secretly wished she would go away. I wasn’t there to perform for her. I was there for me.
I wanted my audience of one to leave.
Suddenly I thought how foolish I was being. If I wanted to workout and not be seen, I could go to the gym and ride a stationary bike while I read a book. Ballet is a performance art, not a spin class at the gym. In the ballet studio, flattering lighting and glass surrounded me; mirrors and windows were everywhere and my body was adorned in a shiny leotard and ripped tights. I had placed myself in the optimal position to attract an audience.
How often do we invite an audience to the table and offer them nothing? By writing blogs, emails, articles, books, and posting all over social media, and shouting as loud as we can, we have all become performers. Even though we’ve invited an audience to the table, we really don’t care about them. We only want them to buy, sell, like, follow or to become fans. It’s sort of like Sally Field shouting at the top of her lungs, “You like me. You really like me!”
We’re communicating all over the place, but no communication is actually taking place. We’re all guilty of much more than putting on a bad performance. We’re being bad communicators.
Peter Drucker once said, “ There is no sound in the forest unless someone can hear it. It is the recipient who communicates. The so-called communicator, the person who emits the communication, does not communicate. He utters. Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication. There is only noise. In communicating, whatever the medium, the first question has to be is this communication within the recipient’s range of perception? Can he hear it?”
Communication takes place when you are communicating to an audience that might actually want to receive what you have to offer. Look at it from your audience’s perspective and ask yourself: What’s in it for them?
Where is your audience’s point of pain or point of passion? What will move them, touch them, and captivate them? You have to care why they would be interested in what you have to offer. Communicating to an audience and the size of the audience is irrelevant, even if it is only for an audience of one. When you care about your audience, you will be able to communicate a message that will be heard. –Patricia Vaccarino