ARE AUDIENCES STUPID?
The Dangerous Stereotype that Stifles Creativity and Success
In my decades-long video and meeting production career, there was one phrase that sent chills down my spine:
"Close enough for government work."
This was another way of saying, "Good enough for those stupid people", or "This audience doesn't deserve my best work", or "I want to go home."
What it said to me about that employee or colleague was that he or she didn't care-- about the audience or their own integrity. And that shortsightedness came from a stereotype of the average viewing audience: They're impatient, stupid, and need everything spoon-fed.
I mean, wow.
Is there any chance that these producers were right? Simply, are audiences stupid?
Look in the mirror. Are you?
The answer is no. Just because an audience doesn't know the difference between a Red camera and a GoPro; Klieg lights vs. Kino-flo's, or iambic pentameter from Mother Goose doesn't mean that they don't know what is good. They are the audience. They are the biggest group of critics around, and they know what they like.
They like stories.
In Hollywood, they approve with their dollars. In business, they approve with action, commitment, or a bit of both.
They are us; we are they-- if it's too complicated for us, its too complicated for them. If it's intriguing to us, it's intriguing to them.
Examples? Christopher Nolan; Orson Welles; M. Night Shyamalan.
Corporate examples? Videos that don''t preach, meetings that don't pander, speeches that reduce the PowerPoint to clear, illustrative, intriguing pictorial elements.
Why simply say "We need better customer service" in a video, when kids in a Lemonade Stand can better or more arrestingly tell "the story?"
Why preach about miscalibrated machining equipment and the resultant costs when you can produce a film-noir-like mystery?
Why have the CEO of a corporation sit at his or her desk and lecture on building brand loyalty when interviews with real customers can make that case more convincingly and more credibly?
It's the story, stupid.
Even the "stupid" audience knows that.
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