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Three Steps to Your Audience of One


Would you like to create a deeper connection and relationship with your audience?

There is one adjustment you can make to your podcast to help you achieve your podcasting goals. Whether you hope to motivate your audience to action, entertain them with a story or simply get them to listen again, one change to your approach can help you succeed. This small modification to your approach will have a big impact on creating a trusting relationship with your audience.

Treat every listener as an audience of one.

When creating a podcast, it is critical to your success to address each member of your audience as an individual rather than a group, regardless of the size of your audience.

Many podcasters and broadcasters address their audience as a group. “Hello, everyone.” “Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.” “You guys are the best.”

Your listeners are not engaged with your show as a group. They are each listening as individuals with unique imaginations. You need to treat them that way.

Addressing your audience as a group is impersonal. Your listener doesn’t feel special. Speaking to a group allows each listener to feel like you are speaking to someone else. It is typical for your listener to feel like it’s alright to not take action, because another member of the group will handle it.

This style began back when radio began. When radio broadcasting started, station owners needed something to broadcast. The content was typically stage performances broadcast over the airwaves. The “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation was meant for the live audience in the theater. It was not intended for the listening audience at home.

At the time, radio was the primary source of entertainment at the family home. Prior to the introduction of television, families gathered around the radio in the family room each evening for their entertainment. Addressing the audience as a group made sense. Listening was taking place as a group.

As radio broadcasts moved from stage performances on the radio to “made-for-radio” dramas that were produced in a studio rather than on the stage, the salutations didn’t change. The live audience was no longer present. The audience however was still gathered together in the family room. The announcer continued to address the listening audience as a group, simply because it had always been done that way.

When television was introduced to the family room, long-form radio programming moved to television. Great radio stories like The Lone Ranger, Abbott & Costello and The Green Hornet left the radio for the promised land of television. Radio was quickly being replaced as the nightly family activity in the home.

Eventually, the radio performance was replaced with a disc jockey playing recorded music for the listening audience. Radios also progressed with the introduction of the transistor. Small, portable transistor radios took the place of the large console radios that once occupied the family room. Listening moved from being a group activity in the family room to being a personal experience with these portable radios. Even as listening changed, most on-air personalities continued to address their audience as a group. It had always been done that way.

Today, podcast listening has become even more personal. Podcast listening typically takes place alone in a car or with headphones. People are no longer listening as a group. They are alone with your voice.

Even if your listeners are with others while they are listening, each individual is creating unique images in their head. Those images are different from the images created in the imagination of any other person in the audience. Audio is a very personal medium.

Since they are listening as individuals, you should address them as such. Your show should be a one-on-one conversation with your listener.

If most of your listeners are listening alone, it sounds out of place when you say, “Hello, everyone.” Your listener is then saying in their head, “Everyone? It’s just me. Who are you talking to?” “Everyone” is directed at no one. Adjust your language to fit your audience.

If I describe a car making a left turn at a busy intersection, you will envision it much differently than any other person listening to the same story. Television leaves very little to the imagination. Audio helps create wonderful stories and stirs the imagination. The more personal and individual you can be with your stories, the stronger your connection and relationship will become.

Finally, when you address a group, it is easy for your listener to shirk their responsibilities while expecting somebody else to take care of the tasks.

Let’s say you want your audience to visit you website. You say, “I would really appreciate it if you guys would log onto my website this week and let me know what you think.” Who exactly do you want to take action? You’re addressing the entire group. I don’t need to do it. There will be plenty of others that take action. It won’t make much difference if I don’t do it.

Unfortunately, most listeners are thinking the same thing. When you check your web stats, they’ve barely moved. Very few have taken action. Why? Because you didn’t address them individually. It was easy to assume somebody else would handle it.

There are three steps to treat your listeners as an audience of one.

First, get rid of the collective, group talk. Change your nouns and pronouns from plural to singular. Instead of using “ladies and gentlemen” or “you guys”, use “you”, “me” and “I.” Talk to one person. Most everything you say will apply to one person just like it will apply to a group of people.

Second, be personable. Reveal things to your audience that you would reveal to your friends. When you have trust in your listener, she will begin to feel appreciated. Your relationships will become stronger and more meaningful.

Third, be real. Speak like a real person and not an announcer. Replace announcer words with words real people use. Instead of using “good evening” like a network news anchor from 1975, use “hi” like you would use when you call a friend.

If you hope to make your call-to-action effective, you need to create strong relationships with your listeners. If you want to create strong, meaningful relationships with your audience, you must treat each person in your audience as an individual. Make each listener feel special. Talk directly to them one-on-one. Use words that sound like you are speaking to one person. Be personable. Be real. Create wonderful relationships as you create multiple audiences of one.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Um… Er… Ah… 7 Speech Tips for Podcasters


So, um, you know, there’s something that tends to worry new podcasters and even sometimes fluster experienced talkers. It has to do with, you know, effective speech and uh, verbal crutches. There are, ah, um, a lot of ways that a podcaster… okay, I can’t keep this up. Even typing “um” is driving me crazy.

Here’s the thing. You speak the way you speak. When you’re podcasting, you have a choice: you can speak in your own natural way, or you can try to alter your speech—if necessary—to remove verbal crutches and filler words. Heck, maybe your natural way of speaking makes you sound like Brian Williams or Katie Couric.

Brian Williams

Hasn’t said “um” since 1981. Image source

If your voice isn’t silky smooth and free of verbal hiccups, maybe a few things I’ve learned will be helpful. Oh, I’m not perfect. I still drop an “ah” on my listeners or a “you know” here and there. Still though, I’m ah, you know, a lot better than I used to be. Try on these seven tips for eliminating verbal fillers. To get started, you need to have a baseline—a measure of your speech patterns. That means you need to…

#1. Really Pay Attention

Although you can certainly go back and listen to past recordings you’ve made and pick apart your speech patterns, nothing beats paying attention to what you’re saying as you’re saying it. This is tricky because it requires you to do three things simultaneously: talk, think in the moment, and think about what you’re going to say next. The goal with Really Paying Attention isn’t so much to change your speech patterns but to recognize your speech patterns. Change comes later, when you decide perhaps to…

#2. Slow Down

The best advice I ever got for eliminating filler words from your speech is to sloooooooow dowwwwwwwn. Filler words can creep in when your mouth and brain aren’t moving at the same speed. In my experience it happens because my mouth can’t keep up with my brain. As I’m speaking, I’m sometimes on the next train of thought before my mouth has finished getting off the first. For others, it might be the opposite: you finish speaking your thought before you line up exactly what you want to say next, so you fill that gap between thoughts with an “um.”

Slowing down your speech when your brain races ahead can force you to slow your thinking down-which is not as bad as it sounds. You’ll trip over fewer words, use fewer fillers, and sound generally more coherent. Slowing down your speech when you’re having trouble figuring out what to say next can help you make that transition without needing filler. You’re buying yourself a little bit of time to get where you need to go.

#3. Learn to Love Silence

You know what’s better than saying “um”? Nothing. Literally, nothing—silence. Try it. Press record, and start talking. Make a concerted effort to simply stop talking instead of saying “um” or “uh.” This exercise doesn’t have to happen while you’re recording a show, but give it a shot under the same circumstances.

Be careful not to overdo it. I recorded a show shortly after trying this technique out, and later realized I had a 20 second pause in the recording. I was slowing down, I was using silence rather than fillers…and wow, was it bad. I had gaps in there you could drive the Batmobile through. Pausing for a breath, pausing for a moment, that’s fine. If your pauses go on for longer than it would take to say “um,” then you have a whole new thing to worry about-kinda like if you took up drinking to help you quit doing drugs.

Stare at this for 20 seconds and tell me it doesn’t feel like an eternity.

#4. Have Confidence in What You’re Saying

If you have no confidence in what goes into your mouth, you shouldn’t stick it in there. Same with what comes out. If you’re lacking confidence in what you’re saying, it might be better left unsaid. Sometimes though, we like to “think out loud” and come up with theories, concepts or ideas on the fly…while sitting behind a live microphone and device that records every noise we make. This is not necessarily a bad thing—a lot of really great material has been born of improv. The trick is to realize that even improv takes practice. With practice comes comes confidence. With confidence comes the elimination of the dreaded filler words.

#5. Talk With Your Hands

You don’t need to start conducting an invisible orchestra, but gesticulating while you’re speaking can be a great help. According to studies that I made up for this article, talking with your hands can help you cut down on filler words by up to 37.67%. Gesturing while you’re talking invests you in what you’re talking about. Have you ever spoken with someone who talks with their hands? Do they ever seem like they’re unconfident about what they’re saying? Gesturing invests you in your subject which makes you more confident which improves your speech.

Talking with your hands

Pictured: someone not saying “um” Image source

#6. Embrace the Fillers

Wait, what? No, don’t embrace the fillers that we’re trying to eliminate, but embrace a method of using them for good instead of evil. This might be a hard one to explain in print, but here goes. Voice modulation and inflection can help tell a story, and using interesting inflections—even on filler—can be entertaining or can help drive a point. This is something I’ve noticed a few comedians do when telling certain types of jokes. The premise gets set up, then there’s a protracted “ahhhhhhh” with a hint of a chuckle in it, then BAM, punchline.

There can be a lot of personality in an “um” or ” you know,” but only if you really pay attention to how you’re using the fillers.

#7. No, Really, Embrace the Fillers

Having said all of this about eliminating these kinds of verbal crutches, it’s important to note that they’re not all bad. When I was first getting started, I spent hours editing out all the fillers—some podcasters still do. It’s not necessary. Yes, some speakers are worse than others. If you have an “um” in every sentence you speak, if you begin every thought with “ah,” that’s pretty bad. But these fillers are natural to all of us, and we’re pretty good at filtering them out in our everyday conversations. When we’re listening to people with authority, we expect less filler. Broadcasters and podcasters fall under that category.

Daniel M. Clark

The face of authority. Move over, Brian Williams.

Take stock of your verbal fillers and be honest with yourself: do you use these crutches infrequently enough to let them slide, or do you need to work on them?

Featured Image Credit

Voice versus Style: What’s the Difference and Why Should Bloggers Care?


When speaking about the art of writing, the words voice and style get throw around, often incorrectly. Whether you know the difference or not, we often don’t give much thought about these abstract concepts, allowing them to just happen naturally. But as a blogger should you care?

Nope. You shouldn’t care. The end. Quickest post ever.

Just kidding.

Of course you should care! If you care about the art of writing, if you care about producing the best content for your readers, and if you care about growing as a blogger, you should also care about understanding voice and style.

So let’s talk about them.

You Gotta Have Style

Don’t worry; even if you wear socks with sandals, you have style in your writing. We all have style. And, when speaking about writing and using the words style and voice interchangeably, most people really mean style. As a blogger, you should constantly be thinking about and working on your style.

Style is, simply, how you write. Do you use long, flowery sentences? Are you to the point? Is your writing formal? More casual? All of these things contribute to your style. Your style can – and probably will – change based on what you’re writing. For example, when I’m writing a post here on the New Media Expo blog, I use a more casual voice than I’ve used when writing press releases for clients in the past.

Certainly, some stylistic quirks will stick with you no matter where or what you’re writing. It’s the way your words naturally flow. You can turn off that facet and alter your writing style, though doing so probably won’t feel comfortable or correct, especially on a blog. It’s not a good idea. To grow as a writer, you need to constantly be thinking about your natural writing style and how you can improve. But that doesn’t mean you have to try to force yourself into another style.

Using myself as an example, something I do often in my writing is start sentences with and and but. In fact, I just did it in the previous paragraph. It’s one of those key signatures in my writing, and it’s something consistent across all of my blogs. I can shut it off (like I might if I’m writing a press release), but it feels unnatural.

I am, however, using the knowledge that this is a stylistic signature of mine to improve my writing. I used to use it a lot more, simply because I was unaware I was doing it. It might be a useful sentence structure, but when overused, it makes a post choppy. So, I’ve been trying to improve by reconsidering how I form sentences.

Style does evolve overtime, especially if you’re diligent about improving as a writer. What’s important is that you think about style when writing so you give your readers the best post possible. Give some thought to how you can best serve your audience while still conveying the message you want to convey.

Finding Your Inner Voice

Voice is a little trickier to put your finger on than style. I’m unashamed to say that I’ve used this term incorrectly in the past and I’m still working on clearly understanding both the concept and how I reflect my voice in my writing.

The clearest way I can describe voice is this: it is your soul, your perspective, your worldview. Voice is not the way you put words together, but rather the special sauce that makes your readers fall in love with you. As a blogger, few readers will fall in love with you because they like the way you use semicolons. Readers can certainly appreciate your writing style, but what they’ll fall in love with is your voice.

I’ll use one of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson, as an example. Jenny is best-known for her blog The Bloggess, where she writes about her life dealing with motherhood, depression, marriage, pets, and daily shenanigans that are almost guaranteed to crack you up. On The Bloggess, Jenny has a funny, pithy writing style often peppered with colorful language and inner-monologue sentences that only escape being run-ons by technicality. I absolutely love her writing style.

But her voice? I love that even more. Jenny’s writing voice reflects that she is humble, barely allowing herself to believe that she has so many fans. She approaches situations from the point of view from someone who deals with anxiety and depression. Often, her posts reflect how she grew up: in a close-knit family from a rural area of Texas, which resonates with me because I’m from a very rural area myself. Her opinions, her background, her experiences in life, the type of person she is – these things all affect her writing. Readers become fans of Jenny because she’s funny, but lots of people are funny. They fall in love with her not because of her wit, but because her writing voice is so strong and it’s easy to relate to her.

Have you ever read someone’s blog, met them in real life, and said (or just thought), “I know this is the first time we’re meeting, but I feel like I know you!”? Have you ever felt defensive or protective when someone attacks a blogger you like? Have you ever cried or felt otherwise emotionally charged when reading a blog post? That sense that someone you’ve never met is your best friend and really understands you is due to writing voice, not style.

Your writing voice does not change. It is who you are. You shouldn’t “work on” your voice as much as you should work on letting it shine through in your writing.

I hope this helps clear up the difference between writing voice and writing style. Sometimes, as bloggers, we can get wrapped up in perfecting the information we’re conveying, but thinking about your posts from an artistic sense is important too. Don’t just put your head down and write. Be thoughtful about how you are presenting your message to readers and what you can do to improve your style and more clearly reflect your voice.

Are You Blogging a Castle or a Pile of Rocks?


… by Jeff Greenhouse

As bloggers, we parcel out our insights in very discrete packages. We identify the seed of a promising post, then wrap it in layers of detail and background until we have created something solid, with sense of weight. When it’s done, we place it on top of the blog for our readers to enjoy, and we start all over again. We build our pile, one post at a time. But, if we give some thought to the whole versus the parts, we can actually creating something bigger. Then those individual blocks of stone form a regal castle instead of a jumbled rock pile.

I’m not saying that each post should be a continuation of the last. That wouldn’t be a blog, it would be a novel chopped up into small parts. I’m saying that each piece should contribute to an overall sense of you: as a brand, as a person and as a personality.

The topics you choose to blog about lay the foundation. A good blogger has an opinion about just about anything, but narrowing the field to a few topics creates structure and lets you develop depth in those areas. It also gives you the chance to create a detailed point of view that can influence your readers.

Your writing style adds the flavor and the flair. A dry blog is about as tasty as a dry turkey (and just as desirable). A blog doesn’t have to be as neutral as a corporate website. Blogs are written by people, and its good to see the personality of the writer come through.

Finally, don’t be afraid to connect the blocks. Refer to earlier posts when you circle back around to similar topics. If you have a few key points that are a core part of your philosophy, don’t be afraid to bring them up again and again. If one of your readers makes a particularly good point in a comment, use it as the basis of a future post.

Some of this may come out naturally, but it should still be based in conscious thought (especially for business and brand-focused bloggers). With a little planning, you’ll be able to stand back and marvel at the palace you’ve built.

Jeff Greenhouse is a 16-year digital marketing veteran, agency founder and serial entrepreneur. He blogs about marketing, creativity, innovation and technology at http://www.JeffGreenhouse.com and Tweets at http://Twitter.com/JeffGreenhouse

30 Days to a Better Blog: Perfect Your Voice


30 Days to a Better Blog: Perfect Your Voice

Because a website is pretty two-dimensional, your writing needs to jump off the page and engage your audience. Your voice is what makes your blog unique. It’s what differentiates you from the masses. It’s what keeps people coming back again and again.

If you haven’t yet perfected your voice, this is the month to do it. I already wrote an article on five tips for finding your voice. Start there to figure out exactly the voice you want to portray. Then you need to perfect the voice you’ve established.

  • You’ve chosen your voice. But is it really you? I’m a firm believer that your voice needs to be pretty authentic. If someone meets you in person, will they be shocked to find that you’re nothing like your blog persona? That’s not a good thing! Stay authentic … but make it
  • You … only better. If you think you’re a little flat or stale, feel free to up the voice a little. As long as you keep it consistent you can add more sarcasm, humor, personality, etc.
  • Ask someone to define your blogging style. Is that the voice you’re going for? If not, figure out what’s going wrong.
  • Try a video blog. I find that my vlog style tends toward a mix of snark and wit. Maybe even more than my blog voice. If I can translate that to my blogging, I’d be golden!
  • Stay consistent. The best way to perfect your voice is to stick with it and stay consistent. Have a favorite catch phrase? Use it often. Want to sign off your posts with a quote or saying? Do it every time.

How do you perfect your voice? Share in the comments below.

Image Source: SXC

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