Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Mar 2024

Negotiations With Audiences

Attended a four hour workshop and was reminded about the tenuous relationship that facilitators have with their audiences. There is the implicit structure of a session where the facilitator is regarded as the subject matter expert. There is the handshake of greetings and slide decks or other paraphernalia. There is the negotiation that the facilitator makes with the audience through affirmations and jokes, through summaries and bullet points. And all the wild the audience is making the same negotiation. They are responding with either questions or head nods (emojis if this is virtual). Where there is an interactive element, there is a tact admission of trust: these activities will embed the thing that you have been hearing, these activities will give the facilitator time to recollect themselves.

Relationships with audiences are based on something of a contract of trust. And it’s easy to manipulate that contract whether you are the facilitator or the audience. You can decide to be attentive or not. You can decide to comment or to share. You can decide to do nothing as the audience, and therefore the facilitator lives in an imaginary world where the things that they put out are great enough, but there’s no feedback to guarantee that great enough ever existed. It’s all about trust. A transaction of trust.

A sports media star said something similar to the effect recently, “superstars get the millions because they bring millions of views. While those people to whom we would love to be getting paid more (doctors, teachers, etc.), cannot because they serve a smaller audience. You are paid according to the audience that you serve.“ it is a harsh saying, but it’s a true one. In the shape of this economy, those persons who enable large audiences are those who are guaranteed a greater weight of this trust transaction. Unfortunately, the great weight of that trust transaction also means that they bare a larger responsibility to their audiences. Not just for delivering the thing that the audience wants, but also being able to see ahead of the audience once and desires to something else. And if they cannot, they no longer are able to carry that weight.

When looking to impact significant persons, it is very helpful to understand your posture. You can be the facilitator or you can be the audience. Sometimes, within an endeavor, you might relate between those two. But you have to be able to pay attention to both the context Permits. If you are the facilitator, you are being given the weight of trust. And your ability to transact is going to be applauded or rejected by the audience. And when you are the audience, the weight of trust will be passed to you, and it is your responsibility to either evangelize it to those who wish they were the audience, or to filter it to those person who must become facilitators in their own right.

After such a negotiation can you truly say that you met the needs of your audiences, or not.