Rhythm 1: Leaving a space for response

February 10, 2011

Caffe Pronto

Caffe Pronto: The Dance by Earl - What I Saw 2.0 on flickr

There should have been a post yesterday, because I am trying to posting every weekday at the moment.  But there wasn’t.  I didn’t have time to create and put up the right piece. I thought about pasting in anything, just to meet my own challenge, but there’s a greater issue.

Creating a post is only one part of the cycle.

The audience response is the next part.

When I’ve worked on creating online research groups, I’ve seen a temptation for researchers to put up questions daily.  It can work, but if it’s the wrong rhythm for your group, people who have (say) a 2-3 day response cycle will fall behind very quickly and become frustrated with you.

We often focus entirely on production: stimulating a response in our audience by asking questions.  Staging the play.  Writing the book. Finishing the project. Getting the paper off to the reviewers.  We often ignore what comes next.

Do you allow for response time?

It’s easy to skate through the response.  The answers provided.  What the audience did.  What happened to the report.  What we think about the way people reacted.

We’re forming questions in our head while the audience is still thinking about the last one.

Personally, I need downtime between bursts of writing.  Right now, it’s also important for me to see the audience response and really pay attention to it. The daily cycle is too quickfire for that – though it might be perfect for you.

What are your natural energy cycles?

It could be workaholism followed by burnout and recovery.

Maybe it’s quickfire call and response.

It could be creation, production, testing, reflection.  Then lying fallow.

What does your audience need?

What’s their cycle?  Can they devour new content on your schedule, or do they move to a different rhythm? Do they need time to assimilate and question it?

Can you feel what their rhythm is?

If you can find the sweet spot between your own production cycles, and your audience’s capacity for response, then you have a lovely thing.  A dance between you, that keeps going and going and going (with pauses for a sit-down and a glass of juice).

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