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The Bliss Mistress Guide: An Audience of One

by Edie Weinstein

Recently I saw a Facebook meme that reads: “The size of your audience doesn’t matter. Keep up the good work.” The image is of a barefoot little boy playing a wooden flute for an attentive kitten. Both are immersed in a relationship of giving and receiving. The child seems unconcerned that there is no applauding crowd around him. He is not busking, has no hat in which to collect money. He is in the moment. Playing for the One.

There have been times when I have been in the ‘zone,’ when writing or speaking, counseling or coaching. I have been oblivious to who is listening or responding. It’s just the Muse and me; as I let the words flow through. Whoever hears or reads them, simply does. I have to tell you, that those instants are few and far between. As a ‘performer’ who earns income with her creative endeavors, I am all too aware that reaching people is how I continue to do that.  Often, I will craft something with a reader or listener in mind, wondering how my words will land with them and how they will take root and grow, like so many seeds scattered in fertile soil. I don’t always know the impact, unless told. Sometimes, many years later, I hear that something I don’t even recall sharing, has made a difference. How gratifying is that?

I have never been shy and am at ease center stage. I occasionally get butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of speaking, but not the dreaded stage fright. I have coached people who fall prey to that and have reminded them that “The message is the message,” whether it is offered to one person or a gazillion. I’m not sure what dynamic exists and what incremental change occurs that makes it threatening, the larger the crowd. It may stem from being in the spotlight, all alone, like Major Tom in the David Bowie song called Space Oddity …..”Here I am, floating in my tin can. Far above the world.” The thought may be “If I look like a fool, at least there won’t be as many people witnessing my epic fail.”

I have spoken one on one and in front of groups of thousands. Each week, my voice goes out over the cyber waves on my radio show called It’s All About Relationships which just celebrated its second anniversary. I never know how many will be tuned in at the time and initially it felt strange, as if I was speaking into the Void. What helped was to envision listeners, drinking in the interviews with my fun and fascinating guests. 
For those who have trepidation sharing their thoughts in a public venue, here are some pointers:
Realize that you wouldn’t be there in front of them if you hadn’t earned the right. Clearly, you have expertise in some area that allows you to speak with a sense of authority.

Connect with one person in the audience at a time. Form a relationship, however fleeting, with him or her. Eye contact and a smile go a long way.

Breathe ….. Ahhhh …. When you do that, you are oxygenating your brain which will help you think more clearly. You are also more grounded and present in your body. Drink water before hand and have it available at your side. I remember watching Robin Williams on an HBO special downing multiple bottles of water during his performance. Keep in mind, that most of us don’t have the hyper-presentation style for which this beloved artist was famous.

Planning and spontaneity can walk hand in hand. Have notes or an outline and be prepared to ditch ‘em in favor of what comes through. Often, I have entered into a presentation with one idea of what I will be speaking about and have been ‘told’ that I am to say something else. I simply surrender.

Speak slowly. That has been a long time challenge for me, since my thoughts often fly at the speed of light. Since I can’t yet master a Vulcan mind meld or brain dump, I need to feed the information in manageable bites to the listeners. 

Have anecdotes to illustrate your ideas. Back in the early 1980’s, I began my speaking career offering drug and alcohol abuse prevention tools to school teachers to pass on to their students. I was a newbie to both fields; substance abuse education and public speaking. I was partnered with a man who had been doing both for a decade. He was polished and articulate and I was stumbling over my words and fumbling with cue cards, feeling totally inept. I picked his brain and asked the secret to his confident presentation. His one word answer?  “Stories.”  He then added “When you have stories to share, you will feel comfortable as well.”  All these years later, this seasoned woman with oodles of years of experience wishes she could track him down, thank him and tell him “I got this. I have stories.” 

Have fun! When you have a passion for something, it shows. When you are bored, your audience will be as well. Conversely, when you are inspired, so too will they be. Being juiced over your subject is contagious.
Ultimately, I have discovered that I am truly only ‘playing my flute’ for a singular audience and that is the One.

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a colorfully creative writer (Huffington Post, Beliefnet and Elephant Journal among them), interviewer, dynamic speaker, interfaith minister, licensed social worker, radio host, BLISS coach, PR Goddess and op-mystic who views the world through the eyes of possibility. She is the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. www.liveinjoy.org  

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