Are you feeling totally lost with how to reach your audience right now?
I mean, December is usually tricky because the holidays bring up a lot of emotions and overwhelm, but then you add in the added stress of a global pandemic that has been lasting for 10 months, and it can feel impossible.
You may be asking,
Do they care?
Does what I have to say even make a difference?
You may have stared at your screen as you try to come up with content, or social media posts, or blogs and just felt…stuck.
With all that is going on, it could be so easy to just close up shop for the month and wait until January; not reach out to your audience, cut off communication because, perhaps you believe they DON’T want to hear from you.
But there may be a nagging feeling that if you actually KNEW what to say, it could help.
So, what do you do?
How do you reach out and actually make a difference when you feel disconnected from your audience?
How do you find the right words?
I have missed my Zen sangha (community) so deeply. In the pandemic, all of our programming has gone online and the Zen temple I practice in has been closed since March.
While I have always had a strong at-home meditation practice, I would be constantly amazed at the power and depth that would happen when I was meditating at the temple surrounded by my fellow practitioners.
Sunday service and retreats were my lifeline. They helped me heal from my divorce, and held me in my health journey. With all the struggles I was going through last year, it was being in person that fed and nourished me, especially since I had developed intense EMF sensitivity.
Being at the temple helped my migraines and my heart.
Then the world shut down. As all the programming and retreats went online, my heart broke. I missed everyone so much, but had to really limit my screen time as it just triggered more symptoms.
My interaction with the sangha went from a lot to barely any.
I felt so disconnected.
I wanted to reach them. I wanted to connect with them, but found I couldn’t participate at the level I had in person.
In the late summer, the teachers started having monthly temple sangha meetings online. I had just had my miscarriage and was so hungry to connect, so I tuned in. And something new was being offered.
A Noble Path talk.
This talk was given by a sangha member, sharing their personal journey to the practice, to Zen. Basically, what brought them here and why.
I was so inspired by the first talk and that need for connection came alive. I felt closer to the woman who spoke after she shared her journey.
Then, the following month, the caretaker of the temple shared his Noble Path. And my heart quietly said, “I want to share my Noble Path”.
A few weeks later, the director of the temple reached out to me personally and asked me.
I jumped for joy!
Now I could connect to those I wanted to.
And the day came, and I was dealing with a LOT of symptoms. I pulled out all my tools for clearing my brain fog and headaches, did Qi Gong, and my husband even did Reiki to clear me right before the talk.
With my teachers watching, and not knowing if my headache would return, I began to speak to the screen and to all the virtual faces. For the first time in my life, I shared my Noble Path, and spoke of things I had not shared before.
And when I finished the talk, the chat filled with beautiful words. My teachers thanked me.
There was deep connection with my audience. We were all smiling.
I was able to reach my audience.
What a glorious relief.
I will be the first to admit that nothing compares to being in person. There is an energetic element that will never be duplicated virtually. However, this year has forced all of us to not only get super creative, but adapt to a virtual world, specifically with our audience.
So, the real question becomes, what allows your words and presence to actually be as powerful as possible on screen?
HOW do you do this?
And the answer is actually the same regardless of whether it’s Zoom OR in person.
It all comes down to your intention.
When you are creating your content, what IS your intention?
Is it to connect or disconnect?
Do you want your words and actions to bring you closer to your audience, or push them away?
It sounds simple, but this may be the most common mistake I see.
I can remember going to see a dance showcase my good friend had choreographed and was performing in, as part of her Masters in Dance program. This was her final piece, the culmination of her program and all she had learned. It was incredible! The audience was on their feet and smiling through the whole thing.
Prior to her another Masters student presented her piece and when it was over, barely anyone clapped. Most people looked confused and I was so baffled.
The difference between these two pieces?
My friend’s piece INCLUDED the audience.
We felt like we were in it WITH her. In the other piece, the dancers had their back to the audience constantly and many times I wondered what the heck we were even there for. It was more about the dancers, more about the choreographer and NOTHING to do with us. And as the audience we felt that. We felt how disconnected the piece was, and so we responded in kind.
The intention to connect has to be the first step in anything you do.
And intention to connect is not about approval. It’s not about being better than your audience, or putting them on a pedestal and asking permission for them to like you.
It’s really about meeting your audience at the same level. It’s about you being face to face and finding what you have in common.
And I think it’s very important to acknowledge this may be scary.
I was scared when I gave my Noble Path talk.
I was sharing parts of my story I had never shared before. I was deeply vulnerable, but my INTENTION was to connect. I wrote the talk to include them, to share WITH them.
Because it’s not about laying your soul bare, it’s really about your intention BEHIND what you say and do.
Because your audience will feel it every time. If you just want to disconnect, they will shut down. But if you are clean and clear and truly want to be on the same page as them, they will turn towards you.
And that is what brings them back, and creates a long standing relationship. One where they become fans, clients, customers, and team members who actually have your back.
What you say matters. And when you cleanly and clearly want to connect with your audience through the simple fact that you are both human, you will create a connection that lasts with the right people in your life.
This year has been a nightmare. People are hurting.
Your audience is hurting.
Isolation has created a chasm across the globe.
Your audience is hungry, starving for connection.
As are you.
There has never been a more important time for us to all reach out and connect.
This is the beautiful part of the equation.
Because when you want to connect with your audience, you are tapping into what THEY most need. You actually need the same thing.
So, reach out from your heart. Reach out with the intention to connect. Share where you are. And ask how they are doing.
Because the power in a raving audience is always in what you SHARE.
It’s actually about what you create together.
All of us on our own Noble Path.