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Not yours to kill, Mr Craig – the danger of disrespecting your audience

I’ve done an entirely unscientific piece of research among everyone I’ve ever met, to solicit their reaction to the latest Bond movie.


Responses ranged from ‘devastated’ to ‘disgusted’, via ‘angry’, ‘cheated’ and ‘upset’. Not one single positive comment. And a common theme was a feeling that the makers had stuck two fingers up at the millions of loyal Bond fans; that they had fundamentally disregarded the pact made over 25 years between producers and audience. Comedian David Mitchell wrote this excellent piece (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/10/ah-mr-bond-i-was-expecting-you-to-entertain-me) on why the ending felt like a kick in the teeth.

Interesting that it was Daniel Craig’s idea to kill off Bond at the end of his tenure. Did he come up with that before, after or as a result of the lukewarm response to his casting!!!!

My dissatisfaction at the ending reminded me of work events where the audience leaves a talk feeling that the presenter had simply spoken about what they’re interested in, regardless of the individuals in front of them. I bet you’ve experienced that. And outside work too, it can often seem that the speaker hasn’t considered the audience at all. I recently attended a talk on personal safety at my teenage daughter’s school, only to be told about workplace stalking for 59 minutes. We felt angry and disrespected.

So how to avoid being that speaker?

Simple – start your detailed preparation by thinking about the audience rather than what you want to say/find interesting. Make everything about them and for them. Because, it’s not about you, Daniel!

And a big part of that preparation is understanding the emotional ‘landscape’ of our audience. What’s going on with them? What’s the context in which they will be sitting in front of us? What’s happening in their world/their sector/their business? If we can resonate with them emotionally, we will be able to make an impact on them. Aristotle – persuasion may come when the speech stirs the emotions. Human beings haven’t changed in two and a half thousand years. Daniel – you stirred the wrong emotions.

Try asking yourself one fundamental question every time you prepare to speak out loud to others – Why should they listen/How is this of value to them? It’s just like buying a gift for someone – do you give them what they will like even if it’s not your cup of tea or will it be a scented candle again????

Of course, the Bond team couldn’t have anticipated that their movie would eventually be watched in the context of a global pandemic by people who were emotionally wrung out and desperately in need of joy, escapism and fun. Extremely bad timing but I wonder if, even in normal times, the response would have been the same? Would we still have railed at their arrogance? Would we still have been angered at their apparent lack of understanding of their audience and a quarter of a century of shared history?

Would we still have been shaken and stirred?

PS  I almost didn’t write this piece today because it felt wrong to be creating something light hearted when dreadful events in Ukraine are unfolding before our very eyes.  But then I came across this very useful site and thought I’d use my blog to share it with anyone who’s looking for small ways to help.


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