Part 2 - The Audience’s Problem


In our previous post we talked about the problems with cutting through the noise. In this post we put ourselves in the audience’s shoes, those that decide what they are willing to consider paying attention to and devote time and effort to do so.

As information consumers we’re constantly bombarded by story tellers that seek our attention throughout the day in many ways, and on many devices. These story tellers are trying to get their messages across to consumers amid a cacophony of other messages  - a bunch of noise - from hundreds of others also trying to get through.

In science and engineering, we measure what we want to hear from the channel’s noise using what’s call the signal-to-noise ratio, a measure used to compare the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. Read more on Wikipedia if you’re interested.

It’s too bad that that we’re not all equipped with signal-to-noise filters to help us pick out what we want to receive and willing to put time aside to process the messages directed at us.

Bombarding people with the written word when they already have too much to process is not going to help. You’re simply asking too much of their time and effort before you’ve demonstrated value.  

Some of us read all day; it’s hard work to pay attention closely enough to get the gist and synthesize the author’s intent. The last thing we want more of, is more work from those that want to communicate new things to us.

Text is not the enemy, time is, specifically it’s the consumer’s time we need to consider. So, what should you optimize for? Simply put, the consumer’s time that he or she can dedicate to you.

As communicators you simply need to find new ways to convey your message to your audiences and ones that doesn’t require effort on their pa

So, on the one hand: communicators need to do more with less or the same number of resources, and on the other, you need to avoid having your audience “tune out” when faced with so much incoming communication that they can’t easily discern what is valuable to them.

In our next post we’ll cover how this leads to mismatched expectations for communicators and their audiences.

... others in this series

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