Yes we are, and you can find the scientific evidence for it at the bottom of this post. But how can this improve our ability to communicate?
Have you ever felt nervous before talking to a group of people? Or do you sometimes worry about what people will think of your social media posts? Or who will want to buy what you’re selling? We’ve all felt it and its unnerving. But the point is, its usually rather unnecessary.
Whoever you are and whatever your objective, you will naturally have hopes, fears, motivations and dreams. That’s what makes us human. And its important to remember that your audience has the exact same feelings and vulnerabilities as you.
When you want to get a message across you might prepare for it by thinking, quite rightly, about who your audience is. You might tailor it for ‘millennials’, ‘executive leaders’ or ‘influencers’, for example. But sometimes I wonder if we overcomplicate it because in reality, you’re only ever talking to people. To human beings with hearts, minds and emotions.
In early 2012, two years after I’d begun working on the London 2012 Games, we finally reached an exciting and much anticipated milestone: The sporting venues were ready for staff to move in to.
We started pulling together a plan for communicating the changes to employees. We considered what people’s new roles would be, the fact that merging teams could get political, that there would be new leaders and shifts in roles and responsibilities – it was hugely complex.
Then the first team moved into their venue and what we actually heard from people was “Where’s the LAN cable for my laptop?”, “What happens to my locker?” and “Why is there no shower onsite?” When it came to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (I’m a big fan), we needed to go right back to basics.
It’s been the same story for every change project I’ve worked on. There’s a reason that ‘what’s in it for me’ is such a widely known mantra. People are naturally wary of change and instinctively think of their own basic needs first. If you can overcome their worries about logistics, food, money and safety, then you’ve likely got their attention.
Despite learning about Maslow at university, its taken for some real-life examples to remind me that when it comes to engaging with people, you have to go right back to their basic needs. Can I park there? What’s the coffee like? Will I be worse off? What should I wear? Will I need to get up any earlier? And so on.
I could go on. Let me know if you’d like to hear more! But the point I’m making is that we’re all human, with all the beauty and flaws that come with it. So if you can put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about how YOU would respond to what you have to say, you’re probably on the right track.
And as for the bit about stars…
Planetary scientist and stardust expert Dr Ashley King says: “It is totally 100% true: nearly all the elements in the human body were made in a star and many have come through several supernovas.” Read more