As we settled into our seats for the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this summer, something our driver said suddenly caught my attention. After several days at theme parks, I had heard the safety instructions so many times they had become background noise. But when Joshua said “That’s the third time I’ve said that, so it must be important,” I began to listen carefully.
He was reminding us to remain seated, because the ride could be bumpy, and it was tempting to stand up for a better view or photograph of the animals around us. Sure enough, a few minutes later my excited 10-year-old popped up out of her seat. I gently pulled her down and reminded her again to remain seated.
I know you’d like to believe that your work colleagues listen carefully—certainly better than a child—but when a message is important, it’s worth repeating.
Use these techniques to ensure that others heed your messages:
- Flag what’s important. Simply saying the words “This is important” tells people to pay closer attention. If you have several points to make, prepare people to hear them all. Example: “We have three primary goals. One …”
- Say it differently. Repeat your message at different times and in different ways. One reason I had stopped listening to the recorded safety messages is because they were always the same. To reinforce your team’s goals, for example, you could write them in your newsletter, place them on a visually interesting poster, tell anecdotes during meetings that show the goals in action and even sing them to a familiar tune.
- Involve your listeners. Make sure that people have heard and understand you by asking questions or inviting them to participate in delivering the message. Example: “Let’s review our goals together. Number one is …” (pausing to allow them to fill in the blank).
- Have fun. Think of the best commercials you’ve seen. Chances are if a spot made you laugh, you had to see it only once to remember it. Our driver made the entire ride fun, right through to his good-natured (live) ending: “My name is Joshua, and I have been fabulous. This is a recording.”
What makes you listen carefully?