Alien translator... That's genius!
As a child of the 70's and 80's I'm willing to admit... I'm a Star Wars fan. But I'm even more of a Boba Fett fan. Recently, while watching an episode of the streaming series The Book of Boba Fett, I noticed one of the aliens (I don't know what they're called... I'm a fan, but not that big of a fan!) had an electronic device attached to his neck.
When he spoke, his alien language would automatically be interpreted into English or whatever language the audience needed to hear. How anyone actually understands R2-D2 is still a mystery to me. 😉
That scene made me think about how we each communicate with our audiences. While we may all be speaking the same language (English, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, German, etc.) we don't always speak the same. Our departments are like different planets. For example, I've seen plenty of software engineers speak to frustrated senior business leaders. I've also seen senior leaders speak to disengaged team members.
If you and your audience are not from the same planet, make sure you're speaking the same language to be heard and understood.
Why does this happen?
In one sense, it's hard to say exactly what causes us to develop messages more in tune with ourselves than in line with our audience. But then again, we don't have to look very far to see that we are all a bit selfish. What do I mean by that? By nature, we tend to think of ourselves first and others second.
What does a misaligned message from a speaker sound like? I'm sure you've seen it before in simple statements like:
"What I want to talk about is..."
"I want to take some time today and..."
What are the reasons I've seen for speakers creating messages out of tune with their audience? Either they've never been made aware of this issue, they don't think they have time to tailor a message to the audience, or they've never been given a simple tool to fix it.
Well, that changes today. Here's your tool.
How can we fix it?
We teach a simple tool in our Message Builder workshop to help you build a bridge from your planet to the audience's.
We call this tool the 6 questions. You start with the end in mind. Describe your planet. What is your goal for speaking? In other words, at the end of your presentation, what do you want your audience to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do? These three questions make up the destination or goal for speaking. It's your planet.
Then you turn to your audience. There are three questions to answer here also. First, Who are these people? Are they executives, accountants, salespeople, new hires, 5th graders, engineers, etc.? Start thinking like them. Second, what do they currently think about your topic? What do they know or think they know? Third, how much do they really care about this topic or how do they feel about your topic? This is their planet.
Now, once you've answered the three audience questions, your head is in a much better place to start constructing a message to connect these two worlds. Your objective with your message is to build a bridge from where they are today (their planet) to where you'd like them to be tomorrow... on your planet.
Get the message right
In the Star Wars universe, language never seems to be a problem because the aliens either understand each other inherently or they have a C3-PO interpreter droid. For us here on planet earth, even if we speak the same language, we still need to understand how the audience's world differs from our own. It may be very different.
Until next time... may the force be with you... this is the way.
Russ Peterson Jr.
Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and President of iSpeak, Inc. – An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published author on Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. iSpeak helps people build stronger relationships and achieve more through better communication. You can connect with Russ directly through LinkedIn.