Viola Davis on how to reach your audience

I didn’t set out to write a blog on how actress and producer Viola Davis can help you reach your audience. I set out to watch an episode of the YouTube talk show Hot Ones. If you’re not familiar with the show, the host interviews celebrities as they eat a series of hotter and hotter wings (chicken or vegan). And Viola Davis was the celebrity on the episode I watched.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when Viola began talking about how to reach your audience. “When you audition,” says Viola on the show, “don’t talk for too long. Nobody wants to hear you talk for 10 minutes.”

Viola goes on to say that you have “three to four minutes at the most” to get your audience’s attention and mentions that some actors save their best monologues for last. “That’s bull@#!%,” Viola says. “Use your best monologue first, so you get their attention right away.”

Why should we all listen to Viola’s words of wisdom? Because whether we’re marketers, salespeople, presenters, or actors, we all must reach our audience. If we don’t, they will get bored and tune out. For businesspeople, that can result in lost revenue through lost leads. For actors, it can result in lost revenue through bad reviews leading to a lack of getting hired for that next project.

Here are three tips for ensuring you reach your audience:

  • Know your audience.
  • Make a Message Map.
  • Test your message.

Know your audience

One of the best ways to reach your audience is to get to know them. I don’t mean personally – that’s not always possible. Get to know them in the best way you can. If you’re a salesperson or a marketer, interview your buyers and create buyer personas or buyer empathy maps. If you’re presenting at an event, find out everything you can about who will be attending.

As you research your audience, try to learn everything you can that will help you deliver a message that resonates. What type of information do they seek? How do they prefer to get that information? What information sources do they trust most? The answers will help you create a message that gets their attention.

Make, and use, a Message Map

Once you know more about your audience, I recommend making and using a Message Map to help you reach them. If you do nothing else, take this crucial step. A Message Map helps you keep your story clear, concise, and consistent, so you don’t bore your audience with a too-long monologue.

Use a Message Map to ensure you reach your audience.

Listen to Viola’s advice, and start with your best, most attention-getting message first. Don’t save it until the end, or your audience will stop paying attention. Use your Message Map to guide you in creating all your content, from presentations to web copy to content marketing assets.

Test your message

Before you present your message, make sure you test it on actual members of your target audience. Actors practice in front of friends, family, and fellow actors who understand the goal of the production they’re rehearsing for. Marketers need to do the same.

Use an advisory council, current clients, and other ways to test your message before you invest too much in content and distribution.

To ensure you reach your audience, listen to Viola Davis: Don’t talk for too long and lead with your most compelling message.

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