Audience first, not Author first
To change your communication game, reframe your approach
Any time you’re delivering a presentation or communicating in a meeting, you’re dealing with 2 or 3 different types of communicators. At least.
A quick glance at Myers Briggs Personality Types alone is dizzying, because the complexity and possibilities are overwhelming:
It’s hard to please everyone, we think. So what do we do? We default to our own preferences and our own styles. Author-first.
Here’s the problem: when we default to the author’s style, we lose an opportunity to connect with the audience. How can we be surprised when our messages fall flat?
There’s a better way.
Looking to Neuroscience
We can start to find the answers from the work of Neuroscientist Uri Hasson, who studies brain to brain communication in his lab at Princeton and focuses on one question:
“How exactly do the neuron patterns in one person’s brain that are associated with their particular stories, memories and ideas get transmitted to another person’s brain?”
What he found, in a recent experiment outlined here,the best vehicle for transmitting ideas wasn’t random sentences or paragraphs, but story. And whether or not that story “worked” (e.g. brain coupling occurred) was whether or not the listeners had common ground.
Now, this result shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the implications may. It’s not just communicating. It’s literally changing your listener’s brain:
“We found the better the listener’s understanding of the speaker’s story, the stronger the similarity between the listener’s brain and the speaker’s brain.”
The more you’re able to tell your story from a place of common ground, or the audience’s Point of View, the more likely you are to achieve your goal.
From The Deck Grader (a tool we launched to help companies improve how they tell these stories to their customers) data, we can see there’s a huge opportunity.
On average, companies spend over 60% of their sales decks talking about themselves today.
Instead, Hasson’s research suggests that a better way would be focusing your communication efforts on that common ground instead. For example:
What does your ideal customer care about? What challenges are they facing?
How is the world changing? What trends are reshaping your shared experience?
…and that’s just the beginning.
Instead, talk about the author less, the audience more.
Once the audience is the focus, then customizing your communication isn’t a “plus.” It’s a byproduct.
About the Author: Alli McKee is the CEO and Founder of Stick — a communication platform built for B2B Sales and Success teams to illustrate ideas automatically in real time, to have better conversations with their customers. For more, visit www.stick.ai.