CNLP 340: Annie F. Downs on How to Really Connect with Your Audience, Why Production Levels Don’t Matter as Much as You Think, and How to Share More of You with the People You Lead

Annie F. Downs has seen her podcast downloads skyrocket over the last two months as millions tune in to her daily show.

She talks about how to connect with your audience, how she pivoted during the lockdown, why so many people listen, why production doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think, and how to share more of yourself with the people you lead.

Welcome to Episode 340 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.

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Episode Links


One of the things that’s happened in this crisis is that so many people, almost every organization’s budget, has been blown up. And what do you do if you’re a church and your whole giving plan is off? Our friends at Generis have a brand new resource called Your Budget Just Blew Up…Now What? In this eBook, Generis Principal, Jim Sheppard shares some very practical advice on how to strengthen your church right now to weather the current storm and actually thrive in the months ahead.

Generis is making this new resource available exclusively to Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast listeners before they release it to everyone else. And, there’s a bonus chapter just for you. They’re also providing a support hotline during this time. They’ve got you completely covered.

Check out Your 2020 Budget Just Blew Up…Now What?, and get a free bonus chapter by going to


Text willithrive to 33777 to get access to Carey’s Will I Thrive quiz

That Sounds Fun Podcast

CNLP Bonus 21: Crisis Leadership: Special Panel on Best Practices for Crisis Leadership and Finding Hope with Jud Wilhite, Kevin Queen and Tricia Sciortion

Cross Point Church Online


John Mark Comer

Jon Tyson

CNLP 204: Jon Tyson on Reaching Cynics in NYC and What to do When the Burden of Leadership Feels Too Heavy

That Sounds Fun Podcast Episode 213: Jon Tyson

Jo Saxton

Bethany Allen

Annie’s Fun List on YouTube

The 3 Kinds of Leaders You See in a Crisis by Carey Nieuwhof


1. Be as good a friend to yourself as you are to others

As leaders, we are often disproportionately critical about our own failures. At the time of this interview, Annie had been locked inside of her house alone for 40 days as a result of Coronavirus. During that time, she was tempted to tear herself down. You probably have, too.

You might be thinking, “I should have been more prepared,” or “I need to be as good of a leader as ____.” Don’t. Annie constantly reminds herself to be as good a friend to herself as she is to other people. We all, as leaders, need to be taking notes from Annie.

2. Your online content is only as good as the quality of your connection with your audience

One of the best pivots that has come out of the Coronavirus crisis is from Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show. He took his show from downtown New York to his home overnight. He had his wife run the camera, his kids draw the artwork, and he read his monologues from his phone. And people love it.

Annie notes that as a result of Jimmy’s pivot, we are all seeing that Jimmy is a regular guy just like us that got a big break. He has created a deep connection with his audience. We, as content producers, need to think the same way.

3. Don’t just share amazing content…share how that content has impacted you. 

Annie thinks that one of the biggest traps that preachers (mainly male preachers) fall into, is the trap of producing amazing content from the research of our sermons, but rarely showing how we personally have wrestled with the lessons from the text. Your audience needs to know that you’re a real person like them.

You might also shift your thinking from getting people to see how great you are as a communicator to how good a friend you can be to these people. When you think this way, you will actually begin to bring more people to Jesus. Annie points out that, “When people fall in love with the people of God, they’re going to fall more in love with God.”

Quotes from Episode 340

Be as good a friend to yourself as you are to everyone else. @anniefdowns Click To Tweet

I'm the leader that nobody thinks they're following. @anniefdowns Click To Tweet

Hold on to the word pivot, because what pivot doesn't require and doesn't say is that you have to let go of what you had planned. It just means you have to change. @anniefdowns Click To Tweet

In crisis, agility is ability and flexibility is a superpower. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

We believe the story of creation and redemption for everyone else, but we don't believe it for ourselves. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 340

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.

Will You Thrive, Survive Or Fail in the New Normal? Take The Agility Quiz.

Will you thrive in the new normal?

Some organizations will thrive in the new normal. Others won’t.

Over 70% of the 700+ leaders who took a recent survey predict that the future for their organization is going to look very different than before the global crisis.

While the future is uncertain, there are clear indicators and characteristics of which organizations will fail which ones will thrive in the new normal.

So, let’s see how you and your organization are positioned.

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Next Episode:  Joel Manby

Former SeaWorld CEO, Joel Manby, returns to the podcast and opens his notebook and heart on leading from the C-Suite through numerous crises: Including his partnership with Amazon during the dot com crash of 2000, leading through The Great Recession, and leading through the Black Fish documentary crisis as CEO of SeaWorld. Joel also talks about how to coach yourself through hard times, and how he got through suicidal seasons when things looked more bleak than he thought he could handle..

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 341.

CNLP 340: Annie F. Downs on How to Really Connect with Your Audience, Why Production Levels Don’t Matter as Much as You Think, and How to Share More of You with the People You Lead

1 Comment

  1. Mark on May 14, 2020 at 7:37 am

    First, most sermons might have consumed half of a preacher’s week to write and kept him/her busy at the expense of other duties but they are one way learning, just like school. There is no discussion, question time, or opportunity to comment and often don’t get people to think. In school, many of learned that the brain could only retain what the bum could endure. Meanwhile, it takes excellence to craft a sermon that most people can understand and use. Thus, the need to know your audience could not be greater. Don’t fear your audience or preach to a minority.

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