Our first floor office is on the corner of a busy CBD intersection, in the heart of Melbourne. One of the things we love about our office is the sounds of the city, the ding of passing trams, the hum of traffic and the general buzz of a city going about its business. The one sound that cuts through all this, is the siren of emergency vehicles.
I was interested to learn that emergency sirens are designed using the concept of white noise – to cut through everything and grab our attention. I was first introduced to the concept of white noise when Sydney had the Olympics in 2000. Flight paths were extended over new housing estates much to the residents’ chagrin. The council invited architects into the discussion and the architects placed simple water features in the courtyards of the houses. The gentle soothing sound of the water became a focal point, desensitizing residents to the aircraft noise overhead. Innovative use of white noise.
As business communicators in an information overloaded world, our challenge is, how can we create white noise instead of just noise around our messages? I absolutely think (no surprises here!) that storytelling when done well creates ‘white noise’ focusing attention on your messages.
Tim Reid shared this wonderful example in a recent interview . The head of Tooheys was handing over the Melbourne Cup and everyone was bracing themselves for a boring corporate speech (lots of noise). Instead all he said was ‘At Tooheys we are here to make the world more social’. Wonderful use of white noise that grabbed everyone’s attention. Needless to say everyone cheered. And the story becomes one worth repeating and has entered Melbourne’s urban mythology, possibly forever. So the next time you are communicating think about whether you are adding to the noise or standing out using ‘white noise’?
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