Is There Anybody Out There?
Just Nod If You Can Hear Me
Getting your idea across to someone is a bloody nightmare.
The acid test is whether or not your audience bought it. Did the message hit the mark? Did the deal get done? Did the brief make sense to the team?
Although this is not breaking news — creating a simple and compelling message takes blood, sweat, and tears — often years.
Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Nightmares:
- Explain your product/solution to your audience
- Explain a requirement to a supplier
- Briefing a team to solve a challenge
- Getting ready to do the first three
Communicating has become exponentially challenging.
There’s far more noise. People are overwhelmed by choice. The things that need explaining are more complex than ever. Mindsets are entrenched. If you are explaining something new, how do you explain it — after all, there’s only so much of a comparison you want to make.
Do you know what the audience you are talking to cares about? Do you know what channels they are even listening to?
Is there anybody out there?
More and more people are immune to being marketed at or sold to.
The odds are pretty daunting:
- There are over 100 possible channels to get your message across
- What you think are distinguishing features are subjective
- You will have to explain the benefit differently to different people
- Few people pay any attention beyond a millisecond headline
- You have to overcome cognitive bias
- If interested after that, you had better reach the point within a minute
- It’s hard to become eloquent about any of the above quickly enough
- Getting a headline that gains attention in a millisecond takes major focus, investment and persistence
- Everyone you meet will give you an opinion — you will feel obliged to listen
- Your head will explode
- You will feel like a complete failure
We have a language problem.
When you think about it, we only have four tools to communicate our thoughts to other people.
Words, pictures, delivery and repetition.
It’s all language, but as with all languages, there are also dialects — many more variables within these four.
- Which words, in what order, and through what means? — Too many words? Not enough words?
- What pictures, in what style and design and on what media or channel?
- What control do you have over the experience within which the message is delivered? Face to face? Virtual presentations? Broadcast?
- How much confidence, charisma and trust exists between the parties involved? How fluent and fluid is the presenter?
- Has our brand preceded us? Have we done a good job of seeding our audience with even a glimmer of what we are all about?
- Are we being consistent and persistent enough (in getting our message across) to stand for something? Anything?
- Are we encouraging a conversation? Without that, we will never trade anything.
In other words, how creative can we be with all these dynamics?
The Science Of Conversation
Language is an emotional topic.
Language is the mechanism of thought. Conversations are, after all, the currency we use to trade ideas. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. There are 7,117 languages spoken on Earth. The latest research into our brains points to the differences between language and thought.
Understanding the superpower.
Brain scans of people using different languages show a network of neurons firing independently of the spoken language. Your audience is receiving signals that go beyond the words we use. Language is the foundation, but there’s extreme craft involved if we are to be truly effective.
As our ideas become more sophisticated and complex, we must upgrade our ability to convey them. We have to blend all the tools in our toolbox. That means we need to master them all.
The tools — words, pictures, delivery and repetition.
These tools need to be treated with respect and carefully deployed.
Whether in a conversation or in the collateral we create to build a brand — the sequence of phrasing, the logic and style/tone and the choice of words matter a lot. Mastery requires the authors to identify what works or why it doesn’t.
Even though some may tell you otherwise, typefaces, white space, point sizes, kerning, leading, and line breaks matter. The way we speak, the speed we talk, the breaths we take, the pauses we make — they all matter. The media you choose and the frequency you use all matter
All these things are proven to make a massive difference in how our audiences consume our products and make their ‘subjective’ choices.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?
Thanks to Pink Floyd — I know there’s a different song called ‘Is there anybody out there? But Comfortably Numb felt the better selection in this case.