Skip to main content
The Works

How to do “audience”

By April 18, 2023November 14th, 2023No Comments

Four Winds near Bermagui. That’s my mum in the bottom right hand corner

How to do “audience”

As part of a last-minute whirlwind trip back to Australia, I went with my mum to her favourite concert, Four Winds. It’s held over the Easter weekend down on Australia’s south coast, one of the most beautiful places on earth. A natural amphitheatre allows musicians to play while an audience sits and listens on low-slung chairs and picnic rugs.

At this concert we had some old school (Vivaldi); some very old school (David Yipininy Wilfred and Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred, amazing indigenous singers from the Northern Territory); and some very contemporary (Water Concerto by Tan Dun has people doing percussion with big bowls of water … hilariously odd and strangely effective.)

As I enjoyed my fancy hamper-packed lunch, I mulled over what it meant to be a good audience member. Beyond, of course, just enjoying a good show.

It’s not quite being a good follower … although this short video lesson from Derek Sivers is one of the best things on the internet

Nor is it being a bystander, although that’s getting closer. Barbara Coloroso’s 2003 book The Bully, The Bullied, and The Bystander argues that the bystander – watching, not intervening, implicitly endorsing – is the actual engine of the bully/bullied dynamic.

I think it might be, in part at least, to say keep going. When you create, when you’re taking on a Worthy Goal, when you show people your work, you’re risking the known for the unknown.

You might be on stage in front of an audience of hundreds performing something you’ve been fine-tuning for months; or you might be showing  a single other person the first crappy version of something just started; but you’re not entirely sure how it’s going until you get feedback from the world. 

Feedback is helpful. But sometimes what’s most generous to give is applause.

I see you. I hear you. Keep going.

Want The Works in your inbox?
Sign up (free) here
Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.