A couple weeks ago I read this:
There are 2 reasons why it’s vital to know whom you are working for. The first is that understanding your audience allows you to target your work and to get feedback that will help you do it better next time.
The other reason? Because it tells you whom to ignore.
One of the things I love most is teaching. It doesn’t really matter what the context or the topic is — I just really love getting the chance to find a way to communicate information in a creative and relevant way. So as I read this quote, I find so much application. If my goal is to really connect to my high school sophomores at school, I don’t really care if the examples don’t connect to adults. If my goal to clearly reach my peers, then their feedback is most important. What made sense? What connected? What didn’t work at all?
I don’t believe the idea of audience is only relevant to teaching. Each of us is creating something. Trying to reach someone. Maybe it’s through your music. Or through your art. Or through your business. Or through your parenting. Or through your friendships. The older I get the more I realize that lots of people want to speak into the things I’m doing. But not all these people are in my target audience. If I am not trying to reach them, why would I modify things to appease them?
Clearly this is way easier said than done. I think all of us have at least a little ‘people pleaser’ in us and don’t ever want to let people down. Or maybe it’s that we just don’t want anyone to criticize us, so we are willing to alter what we are doing to avoid that criticism.
But if we really believe that what we are doing, what we are building, what we are creating is valuable and worthwhile, shouldn’t we do everything we can to make it appealing to the people who we are trying to reach?
Know your audience. Listen to their feedback. Do everything within your power to reach those people.
Everyone else? Sift their criticism for useful feedback and ignore the rest.
You’ll never please everyone. You weren’t intended to.