Think about your audience
How we connect with people is crucial to the success of what it is you’re trying to say. Our audience should always be our focus – who are we communicating with?
What do we want them to:
…as a result of our communication?
All communications stand or fall on the basis of how audiences receive them. Because of this, it is important to think about who your audience is when communicating, whether it’s in writing, on social media, or face to face.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service communicates across a broad range of audiences both internal and external. In all cases, when communicating it is useful to ask yourself:
what is the person or group like? Remember the saying ‘it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it’, because when you need to say the same thing but to different groups, it will be more effective if you tailor it to each type of audience.
how does it feel to be them? By asking yourself what is it like to be, for example, an older member of the public, a charity coordinator, or even a member of your crew or team, you can get a glimpse of an audiences’ needs and the challenges they may face. Stepping into their shoes, even in an imaginary way, can bring insights you can apply to your communications.
it’s about them, not you. Step outside yourself as you try to understand who your audience is and their needs. By doing so you will be able to communicate in a way that’s best for them, because it’s the voice and message of KFRS they need to hear, not yours.
Now we want you think about the way you can shape your information you’re giving them, to get the maximum affect you’re looking for.
An introduction to ‘Heart’, ‘Head’ and ‘Hands’
While you could rely on common sense and experience to adjust your language or written style for a specific situation there are approaches you can take that will help with communicating more effectively. This concept is one of them.
‘Heart’, ‘Head’ and ‘Hands’ is a communication framework that works by appealing to different aspects of someone’s personality and understanding their motivations to achieve a specific goal. It is a powerful tool for campaigns, where persuasion is required.
It follows three stages in a specific order. 1. Establish rapport and seek empathy (‘Heart’), 2. Appeal to desire for proof (‘Head’) and 3. Remember to ask your audience to take action (‘Hands’).
Each element of ‘Heart’, ‘Head’ and ‘Hands’ will appeal to people at different stages of awareness – from first receiving a message to seeking out more detail and then taking some form of action. The type and style of content can be amended to suit each stage.
‘Heart’ language style is emotive, genuine and empathetic. Use when:
- Writing to persuade or engage, such as for marketing and awareness campaigns, particularly when used with strong imagery.
- Writing statements around difficult subjects.
While effective in campaigns, this style is less suited to official documents when a more direct style is needed. This language is about provoking a response to make people listen.
Use of emotive pictures with ‘Heart’ language is best when promoting behavioural change.
‘Head’ language style is more formal and succinct. Use when:
- Writing content such as how to guides that require detailed instruction or explanation or when issuing advice.
- Policy and other official documents.
- Website pages.
- Press releases.
This language style is about informing or educating, sharing the evidence to make people think or be engaged.
‘Hands’ language can also be direct but is punchier in tone. Use when:
- Writing a call to action
This language style is about quickly navigating or signposting people to the information they need. It’s about encouraging them to act.