Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

A VERY unexpected journey

hobbit air nzIn case you missed it….(though I have no idea how that could be possible), The Hobbit has just opened  in Australian cinemas, and it’s the holidays (rerun time) so I’m taking this opportunity to reprise a recent post about Air New  Zealand’s clever use  of the latest Peter Jackson movie.

In a brilliant example of audience engagement,   the Air New Zealand safety announcement features halflings, horses and other friends from Middle Earth (including Jackson himself, and Tolkein’s grandsons) telling passengers how to do up their seat belts. The tie-in is part of a major global promotion for the movie, but if you don’t fly Air NZ much  you mightn’t be aware that fun safety videos are a  long standing part of Air New  Zealand’s marketing schtick.

The airline has previously had safety videos featuring cabin staff wearing nothing but body paint, US rapper Snoop Dog,  US fitness guru Richard Simmons on a plane decked out like a disco, (it has more than 2.6 million hits on YouTube) and my  favourite, the ‘naked granny’,  shown 2 years ago on the trans-Tasman flights to the Australia v New Zealand Rugby World Cup final.

Why am I going on about  this?  Because turning a safety announcement into entertainment puts a smile on every face. It gives the  audience a special experience,  makes them  feel connected, warm, and amused. As a result the seat belt message is a million times more memorable.

When all is said and done, communication – whether spoken, written or smoke signals, has one aim, and that’s to get something through to an audience.  To do that, you need to build rapport, because  people pay attention for their reasons. They have to want to listen to you. They have a ‘gimme gimme’ mentality, and lots of other options for their attention span.

If you don’t happen to be a marketing genius you can still adopt these principles for any presentation or public speaking gig.  The first step is to analyse your listeners. Who are they, why’re they here? What’s on their mind? what do they know, think, feel, and expect…?  This helps you to see what your possible points of contact will be.

This post on Six Minutes: Audience Analysis: A Guide for Speakers is one of the best tools for doing this I’ve seen. It’s detailed, and comprehensive, and all speakers should have it in their kit.

Once you’ve got an understanding of where they’re at, you need to present in a way that appeals to them.  What character or personality will you project?  Authoritative? Kindly? Concerned? Worried? Entertaining? Encouraging? There are a host of possibilities, but whatever it is, be sure it’s authentic.  People have great bullsh*t detectors.

After that, be confident!  Put yourself out there, and if you’ve prepared for them well,  you will get your message through just as you want.

Thanks to Ben Decker’s Communications blog where I first saw the Hobbit ad used as a speaking tutorial.


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