Active Participation

A story can’t exist independently of the audience. They are a part of what you’re saying. To some extent you can decide who you want your audience to be, but once you’ve decided, you’ve also given them some power over your narrative.

Your audience becomes the currents in which you swim. And you can definitely swim with or against the currents, with all the attendant effects.

I mentioned to my boss today that I disliked a naming convention used for some of our services. She agreed, so I asked why we didn’t change it. She said: “Because we didn’t name it based on what we liked. We named it based on what our target audience searches for and expects. We can name it whatever we like, but if we buck expectations too much then people won’t be able to find us. Better to let them find us with the words they expect us to use, and then differentiate and explain better once we have their attention.”

You might want to tell a different story than what’s expected. You may want to create a vehicle that’s so innovative that you don’t even want to call it a “car” anymore. But if it has four wheels and you drive around in it, and you don’t call it a car, you’re going to be swimming upstream. The audience you want has some power over your narrative, and that’s the trade you have to make to even have an audience.

Choose the right balance for you between the story you want to tell and the audience you want to hear it.

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