Whose world, whose eyes?

I attended an interesting event earlier this week in Birmingham organised by UKITA. It concluded with a panel Q&A and one of the experts made an interesting point about communication which I wanted to share.
He was talking about the content of communications and how some are more engaging than others. Using a simple model, he drew a contrast between communicating about ‘our world’ (the communicator’s world) and ‘their world’ (the world of the audience).
He then also compared the view we take of these worlds – do we look through our own eyes or those of the audience.
In one extreme (the most common situation) the communicator talks about their world, seen through their eyes. This tends to result in ‘telling’-style messages that could be broadly categorised as saying “aren’t we great”! They come across as self-centred and whilst they might reinforce perceptions amongst existing fans of the brand, they struggle to engage a new audience. They also tend to be monologues and look old-fashioned.
The other extreme is where the communicator talks about the world of the audience and their perceptions. This is usually much more interesting to the reader or listener and more likely to generate feedback and an ongoing dialogue. I’ve referred to it on previous blogs, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of the native American saying “You are my friend when you walk in my moccasins.”
So why don’t we all take the second option?
Firstly, it can be too tempting to resist the urge to tell everyone how great we are. We might be justly proud of our business and it’s easy to think our achievements will be interesting to everyone else.
The other reason is that it can be more difficult – to do it properly we need to build a good understanding of our target audience. Who are they, what are their problems, issues and challenges, and how do they see their world?
Armed with this knowledge we can move away from bragging and start engaging.