What Kind of Audience Member are You? (a semi-rant)

Call this a sort of rant, and a reminder…

I speak a lot!  To many audiences – to many different kinds of audiences.  And I am ready to divide the world into two kinds of audience members.

#1 – Those who want to hear me speak.
#2 – Those who don’t.

Now, this has nothing to do with me.  It has to do with all learning sessions, of every kind.  A training seminar; a college class…  And it kind of works like this.

#1 – The enthusiastic learner.
There are many people who want their company to provide them with training opportunities.  They can’t wait to go to the next one – they want to hear what is said, and then they want to add to their reading stack, and then actually read some books, to help them get better at their job.  They are serious learners, hungry to learn – life-long learners.  They are committed to getting better, and they know that the more they hear, the more they read, the more ways they will learn in order to improve their work (and, yes, advance their career).

And, by the way, they look for other learning opportunities, whether their company provides them or not.  And, with TED Talks, and a plethora of videos and articles out there, it is truly a golden age for the self-starting learner.

#2 – The “I’d rather be anywhere else” non-learner.
And, then, there are the people who feel like their company “forces them to go to training.”  They are much less excited than the first group.  They go reluctantly, with little or no commitment to learning.  And because they feel “forced” to attend, they look and seem miserable just sitting in the audience.  And, by the way, they kind of drain the energy right out of the speaker (me) almost from the first sentence.

And you can tell this person about a TED Talk, or another on-line video, or a good book, and the chances that they will watch or read are slim-to-non-existent.

I’ve spoken to both types of these groups many, many times.  (And, yes, there are both types of these folks in most audiences.  But, sometimes, the entire audience seems to be one type or the other.  Strange, isn’t it?!).  And, I will admit, it is not a “cut-and-dried” spectrum.  Some folks fall somewhere in the middle of these two groups.  But, it is true enough that you could probably ask any speaker (presenter/corporate trainer), and you would hear that they have had the same experiences I’ve had.

{And, by the way, the speaker himself/herself is the same way.  If a speaker is not also a willing enthusiastic learner, jumping at the chance to hear other speakers, watching videos in order to learn something new and useful, reading books… then there is a pretty good chance that the audience will sense that.}

So, what kind of audience member are you?  The enthusiastic learner?  Or the “I wish I could be somewhere else, forced-to-be-here” audience member?


A “personal/practical” comment.  At the First Friday Book Synopsis, we meet at the Park City Club.  And I have finally figured out, after years, that some folks come to our gathering mainly because they really like the buffet.  It is a really, really good breakfast!   I think they “tolerate” the book synopsis presentations in order to eat the breakfast.

Oh, they are attentive, and willing learners.  But, maybe they love the breakfast just a little more than they love to listen to Karl Krayer or Randy Mayeux speak…  That’s ok with me.  But, to be honest, I’m kind of partial to the folks who are there mainly to learn something.


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