Three words none of us ever want to hear (or ever really think we will hear) whilst flying on a plane.
Recently I was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne (QF427).

It was a cold, windy and miserable day in Sydney. My nerves were running high, for two reasons:

  1. Excited nerves for the upcoming keynote that afternoon with a new team of Global Leaders; and

  2. I was a little anxious that our plane was going to be cancelled and I’d be stuck in Sydney.

Luckily for me, after a 30-minute wait on the runway, we were off!
I was fortunate enough to be seated in 14A - exit row (gotta love that extra leg room!)

Next thing, we were greeted by a very jovial Jonathan, the flight attendant, who had the role of informing us of our ‘exit aisle’ duties.

But this was unlike any briefing I had ever experienced.

Firstly, after congratulating us on scoring the extra legroom, he went on to say:

“So folks, in the very unlikely event that you hear those words 'evacuate, evacuate, evacuate', if you wouldn’t mind having a peek outside your window to check for any of these nasties (pointing to the instruction form)”.

"Then one of you might have to hold back the other passengers as they will be freaking out (that’s your job, he says to me)”

He went to explain how we’d open the window, I’d have to kick off my heels and then we’d slide down the slide.

I gotta say, I fly a lot (and often in the exit aisle), yet this was the first time I really HEARD the message.

And I wasn’t alone.

We all gave him a little clap and the feedback that his was the greatest briefings we had ever listened to (he was pretty chuffed).

Why was Jonathan so effective?
In a nutshell - he was REAL!

He used simple language, was passionate and enthusiastic when he spoke, plus he involved us passengers in the conversation. It was a two-way conversation vs a rehearsed downloaded script (that normally goes in one ear, out the other).

A simple interaction, yet it reinforced such an important point in regards to mastering our own verbal communication.

To be effective and inspire others to want to follow us, work with us or to buy from us, we need to:

  • Be real & authentic. Be brave enough to be yourself: bring your own personality to the situation. Cut the jargon and keep things simple to ensure others understand your message.

  • Speak from your heart (not just your head). Whilst the message might be compliance-based or technical, use inspiring words, stories, metaphors and have energy in your voice to connect others to your message.

  • Talk with them, not at them. The human brain is like a two-year-old: tell it what to do and it automatically pushes back. It craves autonomy. Even the perception of some kind of choice is a reward to the brain. In terms of your communication, engage in a two-way conversation vs a one-way download; use names, ask open questions, request ideas and/or feedback.

How well are you connecting with your team, stakeholders or customers via your verbal communication?
How effective have you been at driving the outcomes you are looking for?

What is one thing you could do to be even more effective?

Thanks, Jonathan for the important reminder, hope to see you on another flight soon.

Until then, keep smiling,


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BLYTHE ROWE & Her Life on Heels.

The founder and director of Human Incite, is widely recognised for her passion, energy and her ability to shake things up. Blythe is brilliant at revving-up productivity and performance in organisations. She is on a mission to rid our workplaces of toxic behaviours, build meaningful relationships, personally and professionally and create workplaces worth belonging. Her enthusiasm simply is infectious!