When it comes to communications, let’s start with the basics. It’s all about connecting. PR and marketing, employee engagement, investor relations… it’s all human beings trying to interact with each other.
Ideally, of course, we’d all be speaking face to face, eye to eye, speaking honestly, openly, authentically.
But that’s not possible. Even more so, today, where there are more machines than humans and, well, social distancing.
So how do we put those machines to good use? How do we plug that gap? We need to think about how we can create that same connection, that interaction – as closely as possible – in our communications. Any time you’re trying to connect with someone – employees, investors, customers, consumers, whether that’s through your online presence, internal comms, or marketing collateral.
“Remember, at the other end of the device is a human being.”
Vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Dipanjan Chatterjee
Here are a few of the ways I go about it.
The Braze Brand Humanity Index found that consumers who perceive your brand as human are 2.1 times more likely to love the brand and 1.9 times more likely to be satisfied by it.
So first off, imagine your company or programme as a person. What would your company’s character traits be? We take our clients through this in-depth exercise as part of our story shaping and editorial training programmes and it’s a great way to get people to think about the character of their business and how they want to be perceived by others. Much stems from the character or personality of a business – how they look, how they behave and, most pertinently, how they speak.
Take, for example, the character traits of a Monster Truck event company. Their character traits are going to be a whole world away from those of a care home company. Their visual identity will look very different, as will their tone of voice.
And from a personal brand perspective, the same rules apply. How would you like to be described? Decide what your traits are and have them at the back of your mind when you’re writing – emails, LinkedIn articles, presentations, the works. Give people the evidence they need to be able to describe you how you’d like them to describe you.
People don’t want to be spoken to. They want to speak with you. Be personal, both in the way you write and what you say. Ditch the formal ‘business speak’ and speak authentically, like the human that you are.
Shorter sentences. Shorter words. Using the active instead of the passive. Choosing verbs over nouns. Just a few simple but important ways to ditch the business speak and radically improve your communications at the same time.
When we’re speaking to people, we usually do all this without thinking. But when we write, it’s almost as if we forget how to communicate in an authentic way and revert to a formal, inauthentic tone that bears no resemblance to who we really are. Rather than making us look impressive and clever, it weakens the connection we’re trying to build with our readers. It puts people off, alienates and confuses.
We’re all storytellers. We told stories to our classmates about what we got up to at the weekend when we were six years old. We tell our loved ones about our day at work. We all love stories. Why?
Because a good story changes our brain chemistry. It sparks the release of oxytocin, the love hormone, which in turn helps us empathise with each other, build trust and strengthen relationships. When it comes to business, using stories can range from starting a presentation with a character-driven story to help your audience better understand your key messages, to shaping your organisation-wide, strategic story that connects your colleagues and customers alike with your true purpose and journey. (We can help you with both, by the way.)
You’re human, too. We’re all humans. We’re on the receiving end of communications every day. So think about what works for you – what resonates? What helps you connect with a brand or leader? Keep that in mind. And cut the crap.
Want to talk about how to be more human? Give me a holler.