The Power of Listening Part 2

This weekend I decided to jump in and create my first short vlog as the first in a series to drill down into storytelling to give you actionable items to help you be a more effective and powerful communicator.

This was one of my big hairy goals personally towards becoming a more active media spokesperson. It was scary. There was a lot of negative self talk. Phrases like "I'm too old," "I'm too challenged physically and don't bike-walk-take transit enough for my voice to the the one others want to hear," and so on and so forth.

Maybe you know what I'm talking about. But we need diverse voices to create culture shift. It's not only the young and/or super fit that need biking, walking and public transit as viable means of getting around. So why not you?

I've been car free for over 10 years. Why not me? I actually walk (most), take public transit, or bike for almost all of my transportation needs.

And at almost 54 I'm the youngest year of the Baby Boomers, a large aging generation that would be well-served (and our planet along with it) if they really embraced active transportation.

If you've decided YOU want to be a media spokesperson (and I hope you have) I recommend you follow City Planner and Urbanist Brent Todarian of Vancouver on Twitter. He's doing both very very well.

He has 45k+ Twitter followers and he connects on that platform brilliantly. As you can see in the video above he uses kindness, candor and a lack of jargon to engage his audiences along with a wonderful understanding of human psychology.

Late last year Toderian used Elon Musk's Twitter public put down of of public transit (and the scary people who ride it) to flip the script on Musk. Then Toderian used his audience as active members to amplify a dialogue on how public transit brings them opportunity and joy.

Here's a link to the overview of what he did:

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So let's break this down to the bite sized chews that you, or you and your team can put into play right now:

1. Listening is Key

The first step in being an in demand media spokesperson - whether in traditional (print, radio, television) or new media (social, blogs, vlogs, podcasts etc.) is listening. What are the hot topics and what are people thinking deeply about?

Listening allows us to be agile. Yes we'll always have our own angle, our own focus, but listening allows us to see how what we're passionate about can actually connect with what others truly care about.

Because he was listening Brent was able to take Musk's snide comment and able to refocus the conversation in a way that engaged his core and beyond, including members of the media interested in creating more livable cities.. 

2. Engage More Than Promote

Listening allows us to be thoughtful and nuanced in our approach to conversations (whether via social media, or in person) that actually connect with others in meaningful ways.

The challenge is we love to hear ourselves talk. Why? It activates the same pleasure spots in our brains as eating something delicious, drugs and sex. No wonder it's hard to stop doing!

But if our goal is to connect in a meaningful way rather than promote fascinating things can unfold.

If Brent had simply been promoting himself he would have missed the very mean spirited Tweet of Musk and an opportunity to change the conversation.

AND he would have missed the opportunity to amplilfy the story with the beautiful image above of her son by his follower @LeahHarnack.

The end results? Brent may not have changed Elon Musk's mind about public transportation, BUT lots and lots of people are feeling a greater sense of pride and ownership in public transportation. He has motivated his core - and a motivated core can help bring about culture shift.

Each one of Brent's followers can inspire their network.

Question: Where and how in social media might you engage in a dynamic conversation by first listening? Try it out. I look forward to learning what you make happen.