I recommend you try this experiment the next time you meet a new person.
Introduce yourself, as you normally would when you meet someone new, wait 30 seconds or so, and then ask them what your name is. More often than not, the person will have already forgotten your name, leading to some form of emotional breakdown.
Besides the enjoyment of picking on people you just met, there is a deeper psychological lesson to be learned.
The reason why most people have trouble remembering a name 30 seconds after they are introduced to a new person is because they haven’t established why they should care. Names reveal very little about an individual, so without a context of who someone is, it’s hard to establish a reason to remember someone’s name.
It’s interesting how if the scenario was slightly tweaked, say that the person you meet has $100 for you if you can remember his name. Suddenly, it becomes hard to forget a person’s name.
This concept applies in companies, charities, and any other type of human system. There’s a saying that goes “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is because people won’t take action unless they know why they are personally taking action.
Millions of kids find themselves bored in schools, not engaged with what is going on in the classroom because they haven’t answered the question “Why should I care?”
Everyone has heard of global warming, and most people are aware of the fact that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing. But to the average person, the problems of global warming have little effect on the way they do their daily lives, meaning that very little will change in the average person’s life. The fact that carbon dioxide levels have just passed 400 parts per million means is relatively insignificant to the average person.
Part of becoming an effective communicator is to understand where people are coming from and what their needs and questions are. Thus, it becomes more about what matters to your audience than what you are doing.
People need to know why they should care before they care about what they should do.