Always let them see you sweat (a little).
Whenever I speak to an audience about Blogging, Social Media or web strategy, there is that moment where I know I’m most vulnerable
— The Q&A session!
Although confident in my content and preparation, there’s sometimes a little crumb of fear that someone will ask questions I’m still trying to figure out myself. Questions like, “Does StumbleUpon deliver traffic or trash to my site? Who’s going to invent the 25th hour so I can blog more often? Is Facebook ever going to recover from the privacy mess?”
Oddly enough, Q&A also seems to be my absolute favorite time of any presentation. Other speakers seem to feel the same. Why? Q&A makes for interaction on an even deeper level with the audience. Those moments in the “hot seat” give you an opportunity to show your stuff, address burning questions, and display your true colors in their most vivid state! It’s the connection every good speaker strives for—times ten!
So why not seek out those same connections online? Those “gray area” questions that come up over and over make for ideal blog content. Why? They build trust.
Facing uncertaintly head-on in your blog proves:
- You understand your audience’s needs
- Your leadership is not just based in theory, but reality
- You listen
- You’re real
- You get it
- You don’t tip-toe. You’re direct.
- You’re not afraid to say, “There’s no easy answer, but here’s MY take…”
- You do your homework
How to Tell Your Online Audience, “I Don’t Know.”
Truthfully addressing the areas you haven’t figured out yet is important. What are the topics you’re still churning on, researching, or forming a solid opinion on?
In Good to Great, Fred Purdue of Pitney Bowes says,
“When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down, or you can say, ‘My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things,’ even if what you see can scare the hell out of you.”
Why not explore the “squiggly things” with your readers? Post a poll. Tally their votes and report back on later. Share your “on the fence” feelings and genuinely ask them for their input. Ask your Twitter and Facebook contacts to chime in with their take.
You may not have the answers but the mere act of addressing the question will win you trust and respect. There are too many online “know it alls” out there. Be real with your audience and show that you grapple with certain topics, too.
Your role is to be a Thought Leader…not an Answer Machine.
What are the nagging questions that no one in your field seems to address or answer? Are you avoiding them too?