Last Monday’s Google Firestarters ‘Thinking Differently’

 

…demonstrated how planners can take inspiration from other industries, offering detailed learnings from; politics, law, comedy and meteorology. Here’s 4 quick tips summarised from the evening.

1. Break it down

There’s a lot going on out there, we have a limited capacity (or interest) to process all the messages we receive. Our brains therefore confuse ‘simple and easy’ with ‘good’.  Meaning: simple = easy = true = memorable.

A secret well known by Trump, he uses short words and sentences, and lots of repetition. In the 2016 election he used an average of 8 words to Clinton’s 20.  Analysis showed an 11-year old could understand Trump vs a 15-year old for Clinton.

Readability is key. It means having good ideas presented with simple sentences that grab people’s attention. Get to Twitter and get practicing. 

2. Lawyer up

More specifically: think like a detective, story like a journalist, and persuade like a lawyer.

Think like a detective: Research deeply and look for connections.  Keep asking yourself why? Follow your hunches, gut feel matters.

Story like a journalist: The more clearly you can write the better you can persuade. Stories and anecdotes stick, sometimes it’s how you label things that stick, not just what you say. It’s the human stories that connect.

Persuade like a lawyer: To bring the jury on the desired journey a good lawyer will drop breadcrumbs of evidence, so they arrive at the desired conclusion.  Good communicators make their audience feel smart.

3. Play the fool

Fools speak truth to power.  People don’t like the wise, they prefer to listen to the fool.

Comedians have the skill of seeing the same things we all see but reporting back in an interesting way.  Usually in a dark context, they’ll re frame the truth to find ‘the funny’.

Similarly, insights should be oppositional and smart.  Interpretation not observation.  Throw the hard-to-swallow insights in at the end, warm your audience up first.

An additional suggestion, the room matters.  The best conversations are sometimes had at the pub versus in the meeting rooms which can be ‘white, bright and shite’.

4. Embrace unpredictability

Even if you study the weather report you’ll often be surprised with the eventual conditions. We need to be better at planning for unpredictability.

Labelling the internet as a ‘channel’ insinuates that it is a structured one-to-one pipe.  It is far, far from it.  As David Bowie described, the internet is more like “an alien life form”.

It would be far more useful to be looking out for what happens in media when hot and cold come together. You can’t predict it, but you can learn from it. So, when trend tornadoes form on Twitter and TikTok creating a wealth of cultural insight, you will want to investigate and understand.  And our ability to learn and adapt will be tested with longer established jet streams like ad blocking which you’ll need to learn how to ride.

 

Thank you to Neil Perkins, Amelia Torode, Rob Blackie, Justin Lines, and Bogdana Butnar.