I cry at the movies, leak tears reading books and a sad story sees me tissue in hand…Watching a movie recently with the fabulously talented Sean Penn playing 1970’s American gay rights activist, Harvey Milk, I couldn’t help but think about the power of words. In his case it was just one voice; without the Internet to help him address the world up-front and personal, and yet he was able to reach and influence the people of America.
Arguably a little simplistic – it was a movie – but that’s what communications is all about. The power to move people; to get them from where they are, to where you want them to be – and by any measure that’s pretty powerful stuff. Even more amazing when you appreciate that everyone actually comes with the hardware for this, if they’d just learn how to use it.
So, we’ve got the best language in the world by some reckoning and yet don’t even learn how to use it; instead most people plod verbally along when they need to soar, inspire, electrify…
As a communicator, I’ve seen the most exciting concepts and companies reduced to merely ordinary when the spokesperson doesn’t connect with his audience; likewise, some truly lemon-like ventures take flight when served up with a dash of humour and relevance. It’s all about the power to shift perception from where it is, to where we want it to be and actually most of us could do it, if we simply made the effort.
All this was shared in a book I read recently where the author was struggling to put together a presentation and how it wasn’t going too well – UNTIL he was asked to stop thinking about the journey, but instead about the destination. What did he want people to do after the meeting, how he wanted them to feel, to respond; what emotion or action did he want to stimulate – and therein again the power of words. We can use them to shape our journey and those of the people who travel alongside us… we can motivate through the tough times and reward when things go well and yet it’s all taken so lightly.