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When it comes to communicating, use your head, heart and hands

Communicating head heart hands

Much of our communicating — whether marketing or advertising — is centered around us. Not our customers. Or clients. Or stakeholders.

I’ve just spent the last weekend immersed in the deep thoughts and creative actions of a hundred or so social innovators and business activists at the inaugural Gathering11. Organised and curated by the unstoppable David Hood, it brought together people from all around the world — Ralf LippoldVenessa MiemisChristine EggerMichel BauwensJean RussellAnnalie KillianTim Longhurst, Stephen Johnson and a host of others.

One of the best workshops of The Gathering weekend was run by a fellow called Donnie Maclurcan. He is a well-respected social entrepreneurship academic who loves seeing his ideas come to life. His workshop was called Head, Heart and Hands. And the way that he wove the experience of participation and activism amazed me. Donnie’s workshop showed how events like The Gathering deliver amazing results precisely because they do what most brands claim they want.

What does it mean to “pay it forward”? And is it possible for a brand to do so?

During the workshop, Donnie repeatedly advised us that “everything we need to make a difference is right here in the room”. And the same is true for any business. We just need to know where to look. The head, heart and hands approach helps expose this. Here’s how.

Head: what do you know

The head represents knowledge. It is about what we know as individuals. Look around your team — look at your agency partners. How well do you know them? Do you know their interests and passions? Do you know their secret skills and capabilities?

When you ask people to share their expertise and knowledge, you can be amazed at what you find. You may find one of your team is a secret “foodie”, building a massive Instagram following around their food interests. You may find a nascent YouTube star. A web developer. A home 3D printer. A closet woodworker.

When it comes to communicating, tap into the hidden skills of your teams. But start by finding out what they know.

Heart: what are you passionate about?

In a world where communication is devalued, where messages overwhelm our channels and our senses, the ability to cut through is essential. Passion is one of the characteristics that help drive better communication.

Knowing what drives your team — where their interests lie and what they care about — can help you allocate their time and attention. Find alignments between personal and professional interests. Help them build bridges and create connections between what they are interested in and what they do for work.

Hands: what can you do?

You might know things. You might be passionate about causes and topics. But you may also have great skill.

Years ago, I invested in learning how to type and how to use Photoshop. To this day, these two skills make a huge difference in my ability to deliver outcomes for my clients.

Now, I am not saying I am an expert designer or a fabulously accurate typist, but it gives me a great insight and ability to just get things done.

Tapping into the hidden skills of your teams also helps them feel a sense of purpose and completion.

But more importantly, it means that what they deliver can also resonate with the head, heart and hands of your audiences. And by constructing your communications in this way, it can transform not just the message but the medium too.

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