Learning Some “Street Sense” about Engaging Your Audience

I have the great honor to conduct a monthly training session with the vendors of Street Sense*, the D.C. newspaper

Terry and a vendor who asked to be anonymous.

Terry and a vendor who asked to be anonymous.

that, according to co-founder Laura Thompson Osuri, “helps homeless people help themselves, while also letting the public know about the issues this population faces.”

I love this paper and the spirit of its vendors, many of whom are also its writers. My original intention in volunteering was to support the vendors by sharing skills from the Speak Out, Girlfriend! System. And just as Anna learned in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, “when you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught,” I got a great lesson this week from my students!

This month, we were reviewing the basics of the first 30 seconds of contact with a customer. We had just done a mindfulness exercise to raise our energy levels, and I was all prepared to discuss the challenge of  “meeting needs” and “solving problems” when several of the vendors called out, “Just say Hi!” “Say Hello!” “Let them know you’re happy to see them!”

And then, from the simple brilliance of a vendor with six years of experience, I heard, “Ask them,  ‘Did you get your copy of “Street Sense yet?’ That gets them engaged in talking with you!”

So that’s it for today, dear ones. Before you do anything else, greet your audience, whether on the phone or in person, or even in an e-zine, with an energy and message that says you’re happy to see them, and you want to engage with them. And enjoy the moment!

*Street Sense is a member of the National Association of Street Newspapers (NASNA), which comprises thirty street newspapers across North America.

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