Know your audience…and talk to them.

(This is a repost of my “guest blog” for the Association of Downloadable Media. Regular posting resumes this week.)

‘Dancing With the Stars’ crowns a speedy winner. –USA Today

Spice Girl Mel B loses ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ –Daily Telegraph (UK)

These two headlines really drive home the point of “knowing your audience.” Same story…different audience. If you’re podcasting, video podcasting, blogging, or even writing a letter for that matter, you probably know who your audience is…at least you should. You’re half way there.

While in radio I’ve had the chance to work with some really great talent. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some talent that, in the beginning were very mediocre and became great. Most of them were dedicated to getting better and were anxious to find new ways of doing it. You know, finding the big “secret” to fame and fortune. Well, here is the big secret….ready?

Whether you’re in front of a camera or on a mic one of your biggest
challenges is visualizing your audience. “____casting” of any kind
ain’t easy. You’re probably all alone in a little room with no
audience. (Of course those with an audience will find it much easier to
address to them because…well… they’re right there.) When you don’t have
an audience you’re thinking, “There’s this stick pointed at me or this
big class eye staring at me…so, there are people on the other end?” Yes
there are. More importantly, there is a person on the other end. And
that’s the secret. (Insert taa-daa here.)Talk to one person. Even in a
“live audience” you will be a better speaker talking to one person.

Some talent coaches have preached the “make up one person with the
qualities of your pinpoint target audience.” Kind of like a “hybrid” of
the entire audience. (Depending on your imagination, and mine can be a
bit warped, that’s a scary visual.) I disagree with the hybrid
listener/ viewer. Your message is being heard by different people at
any given time. To treat them as the same person is unfair to them.
Instead I believe you should make a profile for five or ten people.
Spend a little time fleshing out those viewers/listeners. What are
their names, how old, married or single, working or not, readers or
gamers? Depending on the length of your presentation, try to “talk to”
at least one every 5 to 10 minutes. See the headline example above. To
the US audience the winner was the headline. To the UK, where Mel B is
from, the fact that she lost was the headline. Another example; if your
if your podcast is about tech talk to the advanced “geek” and the guy
who is enamored with gadgets and the woman who is just interested is
saving time with technology.

Yep, the content of your show” is vital. Spend a great deal of time
preparing it. Your audience is also vital. Spend time preparing to talk
to them. You address people in a group…you talk to people individually.
If they feel like they are respected as individuals they’ll be back for