Tune into Your Audience

Mad Men
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When I started writing the book, I thought about crowdsourcing it. There are sites where you can put up a chapter at a time, invite comment, ask questions and start debate. I quickly realized that that’s never been the way I write and decided to just do it the traditional way.

But I’m learning so much from the audiences that I talk to, in speeches and on the radio, that I feel I could put together a second edition somewhere down the road. Here are a few of the cool things I heard:

  • A PR person said that when she worked at ad agency Leo Burnett, they encouraged people to take improv classes, which I highly recommend for everyone, and they even paid for them. That’s a pretty amazing investment for a so-called “soft” skill.
  • A college student told me that in his first day at boarding school, every student had to perform a song, a cappella, in front of the whole school. What a great way to put everyone on a level playing field, promote trust and camaraderie, and encourage people to open up and be vulnerable.
  • A woman said she watched all four seasons of Mad Men, taught herself the many important communication lessons therein, and managed to significantly raise her job performance score at work.
  • A teacher talked about how she approaches her students as an audience and treats her time in front of them like a performance.
  • A lawyer told me about training he was doing to help attorneys use performance techniques to better persuade juries.

It’s really fascinating and affirming to hear of all these people, from such different walks of life, coming to these lessons all on their own and benefiting from them. Makes me glad I wrote the book first!