July 10, 2012

Space Invaders

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Comedian, producer and author Jerry Seinfeld knows a few things about communication, and he's shared some interesting insights over the years. One of his more thought-provoking quotes once appeared in a Parade interview:

"You have to invade the space of the audience a little bit. I learned that early on. It was a very helpful thing to learn. You have to invade them just a little bit. Not too much, because then it’s obnoxious. But you can’t be short of them either, or you won’t control them."

Invading their space. What does that mean? To a standup comedian it can mean the difference between a standing ovation and getting heckled off the stage. A master performer knows one has to be bigger than life to take ownership of the room and keep all eyes on them. Singers and musicians are especially known for exaggeration and a flashy presence.

But when it's just you standing there talking to an audienceas in public speakingmastery of volume is one critical skill to develop, as Jerry explains:

"The volume at which I’m speaking now is the right volume for where you’re sitting. I’m almost performing, in a way. There’s this kind of voice, and then there’s this kind of voice, and then there’s this kind of voice. I wasn’t a natural performer at all, so I learned. I was always a pretty good writer in the beginning, but I really had to learn how to perform."

Communicating through writing is a lot like doing standup. It's just you, the lone voice, trying to reach a vast audience whose faces you can't even see in the dark. You can only rely on their feedback to tell you if you've hit the mark. Jerry's voice of experience provides us with some food for thought:
  •  Invade their space Go beyond your comfort zone and into theirs, with ideas that challenge them and can't be ignored.
  • "There's this kind of voice" Determine the most effective "voice" to reach your audience. Not too soft and mushy, not too loud and preachy, but just a bit above the communication level they're used to.
  • Listen for their feedback Social media is today's equivalent of the old audience applause meter, which determined the winner on game shows. Blogging and other online promotion is how savvy authors build an interactive, loyal following.

They say standup comedy is one of the hardest professions in entertainment. I say writers are no slouch either. That's why Southern Writers is so intent on encouraging authors and helping them promote themselves, through our magazine, through this blog, and through the many online venues available to subscribers, like our new Must Read TV and Take Five.

Over the last year we've featured 178 exceptional wordsmiths in Southern Writers Magazine. In the coming year that will grow to over 300, and I hope you'll be one of them.

Begin by getting your free online copy of our July anniversary issue, and then become a member of the Southern Writers family. There's a standing ovation with your name on it!

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