In the News: The I-ternet

In a recent article in 1843, Derek Thompson writes about how we behave differently on social media. In particular, studies have shown that while 30 to 40% of everyday speech is about our first person experience (me, myself, and I), this percentage increases to 80% on social media.

Another recent study explains why: narrowcasting (communicating with one person) is quite different from broadcasting (communicating with multiple people). As the researchers note, “people naturally tend to focus on the self, but communicating with just one person heightens other-focus, which leads communicators to share less self-presenting content” and instead “to share content that is useful to the message recipient.”

This is quite relevant to public speaking. As I note in The Science of Speaking, it’s all about “you,” where “you,” of course, refers to your audience. As these studies show, crafting your message to focus on your audience is not something that will just happen naturally—on the contrary, it requires careful thought to get it right. Although public speaking naturally falls in the realm of broadcasting, it will often be more effective if you treat it like narrowcasting, speaking to the audience like you’d speak to a friend, with the corresponding shift in focus—from you as the speaker to “you” as the audience.

Leave a Reply