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Tips For Artists on Communication And Managing Expectations, Pt 1

Managing Expectations
By Artist's Strategy

If you work with us, you have undoubtedly heard me talk about the vital importance of communicating and managing expectations. It’s a concept that was first introduced to me by a now colleague and then board member in reference to the cultivation and retention of an audience when I was running my theatre company.

Even though we were called “No Rules Theatre Company”, we still needed to be able to clearly communicate who we were and manage the expectations of our audience goers. The concept has stuck with me in a much larger way and I have identified it as a key opportunity for growth amongst most creative entrepreneurs.

Communicating and managing expectations are two slightly yet vastly different topics so let’s start by exploring the necessary art of communication as it pertains to our businesses first.

Artists tend to get passes because we’re “creative beings”. A lot of folks don’t seem to believe we have what it takes to operate in a clear, cogent way. Unfortunately, lack of communication seems to be a prime example that often proves their point. While I could probably write a novel on the importance of communication, let’s identify a few.

Here are the key benefits of actively communicating:

  1. Communication allows you to be seen as reliable
  2. Communication earns the trust of colleagues
  3. Communication helps avoid disappointment both for yourself or others
  4. Communication allows you to cover your bases where necessary
  5. Communication is a sign of respect
  6. Communication lets your industry know who to call if they need someone

Key detractors from your brand when you don’t actively communicate:

  1. Lack of communication loses trust
  2. Lack of communication begs people to stop engaging you
  3. Lack of communication gives the air of dismissiveness or arrogance
  4. Lack of communication reads as disinterested
  5. Lack of communication reads as scared
  6. Lack of communication stops people from asking you to work with them

It could be that your potential lack of communication is centric to a singular mode. For example, if you know me, you know I’m NOT the best texter. I have had to understand why (it’s a personal, informal, social outlet for me) and actively let people know: “FYI – if this is professionally related, please shoot me an e-mail. Texts often get lost in the shuffle of the day.”

Whether it’s been my agents, directors, colleagues, donors or fans, timely communication has helped me avoid novice pitfalls and, to be honest, I’m still learning about its importance to this day.

If you identify as a “poor communicator”, first understand what modes of communication work best for you (phone, Facebook, e-mail, in person, etc.) and maybe make that clear to those you’re working with. There will always be room for compromise but at least you would have communicated and let your colleagues know that you do respect their time as much as you would expect them to respect yours.

Secondly, I would consider trying to understand what’s at the root of struggling with open communication. Are you too busy? Are you uncomfortable? Are you scared? Are you disengaged? The answer could lead to some helpful discoveries. Remember, we can easily identify our actual priorities…

If you are someone who has a tendency to avoid actively communicating with those who are trying to communicate with you, get work for you or help you in one way or another, fix it. Now. It could be a game changer for your future.

More on the importance of managing expectations soon. In the meantime, I’ll let you get back to those missed e-mails, calls and texts…

By Joshua Morgan for Artist’s Strategy.
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Artist's Strategy

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