The Power of Words at a Time of Crisis
Updated: Oct 8
Australia’s bushfire crisis is not only in our thoughts. It is on our news, across our screens, in our papers, on our radios.
People are communicating using their words and their voice to grasp the unthinkable. To try to communicate the devastation. To try to explain the impact. To try to comprehend the moment.
Every day we are being confronted with news. New moments that are linked with high emotion, intense destruction, and physical catastrophe.
People are using their words, written and verbal, to communicate it all. And, we are reading it.
One thing that is becoming noticeable in these moments of heartbreak and hardship are the instances where words are being written without care or thought. They’re raw and honest, they’re transparent and impactful.
The messages are clear. The messages are deeply felt.
There is no confusion over how people are feeling. They can type their comments on social media and press send within 0.4 seconds to scream to the world their thoughts and apprehensions.
Still, the messages are clear.
Until, they’re not.
Scott Morrison’s national address comparing the bushfires to cricket is an instance where a message has been lost.
And it’s because of the writing techniques that formed the speech… as well as a few factors relating to individual and subjective insight and perspective.
Scott Morrison’s words, partnered with his actions, will either make or break his role as Prime Minister. And, because he went above and beyond when using writing techniques (like metaphor, alliteration, comparison) during his national speech, his message was lost. It wasn’t real, it wasn’t raw. It was structured, practised, and written by a third party.
Which is fine; as long as the message is clear. Which in this case, it definitely wasn’t.
Of course, there’s a time and place for well-structured and practised styles of writing. Such as contractual law, operational documents and government legislation.
But empathy doesn’t grow from structured writing, and it certainly doesn’t grow from the use of writing techniques that adopt Aussie slang and sporting hobbies in aim of obtaining audience trust.
Empathy is best served when it is real, raw, and even when there is a spelling error or two.
That’s the entrance to audience trust. Especially at the time of crisis.
In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that a spelling error and expletives would gain a far more empathetic reaction at this time. Not a metaphor or colloquial language.
So, while you plan and structure your online posting and interactions to grow your business, remember that when real-life happens, spelling, punctuation, writing techniques and grammar come second to heart and transparency.
If you want your message to be felt. Write with heart.
No call to action today. But, here’s how you can help those affected by the Australian bushfires.