When do I need to listen to the audience?

Sometimes, my audience is hostile. (Not all atheist groups, but some ardent Ayn Rand followers fit that description.) At least the audience doesn’t agree with what it thinks I am going to say, and that creates a barrier. Other times, the audience is happy, enthusiastic, and supportive. In either case, I need to listen.

As I speak publicly, I am challenged to enter into the worldview of my audience. I don’t want the burden of communication to fall on them, so that they have to figure out all the vocabulary and perspectives that make communication exhausting and difficult. As the author, I want to make it easy for readers to engage.
Of course, that raises the obvious question, “Who is the audience?” and “What do they already know? What is their situation?” The Objectivist community is still quite small, but the postmodern generation is obviously interested in Objectivism, as evidenced by the remarkable popularity of Atlas Shrugged (as of last week, an unbelievable #30 on Amazon’s ranking, 52 years after its original publication!).
Breaking Down BarriersI don’t start by challenging the postmodern worldview or the Objectivist worldview. I want to enter into each worldview by agreeing and affirming some part of it. It’s very important to show familiarity with people’s hopes and fears. But if I just talk to ‘felt needs’ without truly entering the worldview intellectually or fail to challenge the worldview, it’ll end up being just a marketing approach that develops a clientele but doesn’t produce anyone who is serious about following Jesus.

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One thought on “When do I need to listen to the audience?

  1. Adler treats speaking and listening even more thoroughly than the depth with which he treated reading in How to Read a Book. I appreciate that. He leaves no stone unturned. That said, I’m glad that I read How to Read a Book first, even if it was a long time ago. I will likely go back and read it again.

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