Your WHY is your Compass

The conversation around finding your WHY is quite prevalent right now.

If you haven’t seen it, Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, “Start with WHY” is well worth a watch. It’s a simple but potent message about how successful individuals and businesses communicate.

As a communication consultancy, we’re all about successful communication. Naturally!

We want you to speak in a way that is authentic and inspires.

Why do you do what you do?

I cannot tell you how often the question, “Why?” throws people.

Whether it’s someone giving a presentation: “Why are you speaking?”

Or a start-up working out the raison d’etre for their business.

We’re often met with shrugging shoulders or dull, convoluted, corporate or technical waffle that goes on but says very little.

We’re always asking clients to dig deeper to explore the reason WHY they do what they do. Or in the context of a presentation, WHY they’re saying what they’re saying. What’s the purpose?

When clients get there, there’s a common thread.

The human drive:

The driver is always very human- ultimately very emotional.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cry or bare your soul, (I mean, it might.) It means that as humans, we want to feel things.

We’re not robots

There’s no getting away from it. We’re emotional beings. So why do we often try so hard to hide from this? It’s odd.

Take Health and Safety.

As an industry, it has a bad rep. It doesn’t get you out of your seat. A client of ours recently apologised immediately for dragging us into his boring, process-oriented industry. We were doing some presentation coaching. Yet, when we got him to drill down on his reason to speak, and deeper, on his reason for entering the industry, it was anything but boring.

It’s about life and death. It’s about taking steps to ensure that people go home to their loved ones. These are extremely high stakes and a far cry from “boring.”

This very human, emotional driver at the core, transformed the way that he spoke. Suddenly, all of the ensuing technical information/stats and graphs became riveting because of the clarity over WHY they were being shared.

Don Draper, Madmen:

Interestingly enough, this client brought up an episode of Madmen, “The Carousel” in which Don Draper pitches his advertising campaign to kodak. It truly resonated with him. I hope it will with you too.

If you haven’t seen it, enjoy!

The success of the pitch is that he celebrates the real, human emotional drive behind the product. He doesn’t wax lyrical about technology and how the product works. He taps into the true reason why the product exists in the first place.

“Well, technology is a glittering lure. But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash if they have a sentimental bond with the product.”

Don Draper

This isn’t fake or sappy. It’s true. We must not shy away from being “emotional” when we communicate. Humans are emotional. Even the ones that try desperately hard to hide it.

What can we learn from advertising?

Now, advertising might seem like a more glamorous, exciting industry than Health and Safety, or Financial Services- another industry in which we’ve worked a load.

But it needn’t be. There are lessons to be learned from advertising in terms of the emotional, human way that ad campaigns communicate to us.

Admittedly, sometimes one feels that they go too far, straying such a long way from what the product is. It’s easy to get cynical. We’re probably right to. Really? That Christmassy wonderland advert’s about coke? A brown sugary drink? It feels more than a little like propaganda.

Emotive communication is very powerful. And when loads of money’s involved, it can be used for less than honest means. But it doesn’t have to be.

A little science:

The success of this type of “emotive” communication is that it appeals to the limbic centre of people’s brains. The limbic centre has no language or rational thought. It’s where human behaviour is governed and decisions are made. It’s, therefore, incredibly powerful when you communicate with this part of the brain- for you, as well as your audience.

It must be authentic. Otherwise you won’t buy it. Neither will they.

As I said, it doesn’t have to be manipulative. It won’t be if it’s authentic.

You’re not taking advantage of people. It’s not about finding a catchy line or angle that you think might work. It’s about spending the time to think deeply and find the truth behind why you do what you do, or why you’re saying what you’re saying.

This truth will always be human.

It will always be about satisfying people’s human wants and needs.

Technology, process and corporate structures serve humans. Not the other way around.

Alone they’re dull.

Don’t get lost, forgetting why they’re there in the first place.

Spending time to work out WHY you are doing what you’re doing, in whatever context, will always ensure that you communicate with purpose and in a way that resonates.

Your WHY is your compass.

Don’t lose it.

By Chris Wickenden, 20th August, 2019.

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