I once co-hosted a self-care workshop. It was an incredible agenda including meditation, compassionate communication, crystals, and distance reiki. The meditation, Tonglen practice, seemed well received but the crystals and reiki were not.
So, what does that mean? It means I didn't know my audience.
I knew who I was marketing to, but, those are not the people who showed up. The people who showed up were not looking for an experience with reiki or crystals and there were clues I picked up on during the workshop but despite that awareness, I didn't shift the experience. We have to be able to pivot in moments like this. I could have closed the workshop with another meditation instead. I could have taken some questions ahead of the crystal/reiki session to see if there was a way to make it feel more familiar to them. In case you were wondering, yes, the marketing for this event did indicate crystals and reiki were part of the workshop.
You might be wondering, what does this have to do with veganism?
From explaining to a friend who wants to cook you dinner to the person convinced your vegan diet is going to make you sick and everyone in between, knowing your audience makes you an effective communicator and a powerful vegan advocate.
Here are 3 things to get you on your way to knowing your audience:
Consider their background, how much do they know about veganism? Did they grow up on a farm or is farming in their family? Are they hunters? Are they from a city? Did they grow up in a food desert? Knowing someone's background helps us understand their world view, the filter they have on as they engage in life. If you aren't familiar with their life story, consider what you do know about them and think about how that shapes who they are.
Pay attention to the words they use, are they defensive, inquisitive, accusatory, inspired? Also listen for phrases like "I feel" or "I think" it's gives you insight into how they experience the world and how they process information. Do you tune into the emotional aspects of veganism or the facts? You can always share a bit of both, but knowing what makes sense to your audience makes your message more powerful.
Consider what motivates them. Where are they an activist? Do they talk about protecting the environment? Do they light up when talking about health and improving their own or that of their family? Are they strong supporters of animal shelters and adopt don't shop movements? Do they boycott fast fashion? Do they simply love gardening?
Bonus tip - be open and ready to pivot as needed. If you thought talking about the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle was going to open up the person you were speaking to but you can see them shutting down right before your eyes, be ready to switch it up. Of course sometimes, you'll have to table the discussion for another time, but if there has been a lively conversation and you're starting to hit a wall, see where else you can go with it.
Tell me what you think. Do you have tips on how to know your audience? Have questions or comments on my tips? Share them in the comments below.