Audience Matters

Audience matters. Thought about it yesterday when I watched Udo speak to different groups, then last night when I listened to the Prairie Dogs at the Ambassador. Good performances – speaking, singing, playing an instrument – are affected by the people off as well as on-stage.

My writing students talk about it. I remind them of a commercial with Jerry Seinfeld. The famous comedian is doing his stand-up routine for an audience in London, and his usually funny jokes are getting zero response. So his audience sits quietly waiting for the punch line while Seinfeld is getting progressively less funny.

I use the experience to tell students that one should know his or her audience. But what I’m interested in this morning is the lesson for those of us off-stage. Seems we can affect the success of those who teach or entertain us.

In tomorrow’s Sunday school class, we will look at Acts 17 and the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. Verse 11 is significant: “Now these (the people at Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

The next verse says that, as a result – of not just speaker but audience – many believed.

Casts a whole new light on audience participation; doesn’t it? An engaging audience can be not only the result of a good performance but the cause of it.

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