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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Human-Centered Communication by Ethan Beute and Stephen Pacinelli


I finished the book in June 2023. I recommend this book 2/10.

When you realize that the authors are working at a company that sells video recording software, it is hard not to look at this book as a thick sales brochure.

Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • P35. What's human-centered starts with stakeholders in mind—the people it's for and the people it affects. It seeks human satisfaction and well-being while diminishing negative impact. Impacts on humans aren't consequential; they're intentional and considered from the beginning and present by design. When undertaking this design process, it's not enough simply to know about these people. We must engage with, immerse ourselves with, and truly understand them. People are the priority. That is not to say that we ignore business outcomes. For sustainable, long-term success, business needs are balanced with the needs of the humans involved in producing and experiencing those outcomes. And we don't just set up a process and let it run; we get feedback, analyze, learn, adjust, and iterate. In this way, we can design systems, processes, and procedures that treat people, that steadily improve, and that reduce pollution. Human-centered design starts with empathy and understanding. But its success is in the compassion—acting to identify opportunities, improve processes, and solve problems.

  • P53. The Bow Tie Funnel. With this funnel, the sake isn't the goal—customer impact is. It doesn't end with a purchase; it looks like an ongoing growth loop. It is inherently customer-centric. This bears out Jacco's first principle: Recurring revenue is the result of a recurring impact. The Bow Tie Funnel takes the customer's perspective. Their benefit (impact) is a necessary precursor to our benefit (revenue). It demands we stop selling and start helping. It demands we think first about their needs, not our own. This reinforces his second principle: People love to buy, but they don't like to be sold to.

  • P73. Open with a good question. Open with a statement acknowledging your understanding of their pain or where they're coming from. Open with something unique and personable. Open with a compelling image—showing or describing it. "You want momentum right away," Dan advises. "Sales is about small yeses that lead to the big yes. But a lot of videos are a series of not-quit-interesting, a-little-bit-better, and it's-getting-kind-of-long." Starting strong gets you the early yes that builds the necessary momentum.

  • P87. Our default approach to communication asks questions like these:

    • How do I get someone to do what I want them to do?

    • What are the right words? What do I need to say?

A human-centered approach to communication asks different questions:

  • If I was that person, what would get me to engage in a positive way?

  • Why would she respond or engage? What's in it for her?

  • How can I help?

  • P87. "What matters in identifying manipulation is not what kind of influence is being used, but whether the influence is being used to put the other person into a better or worse position to make a decision," according to Robert Noogle, professor of philosophy at Central Michigan University.

  • P101. "Listening on video is very challenging because the impulse is, 'I want to look at their image while they're talking," Julie explains. But when we spend too much time looking at our screen instead of into the camera lens, "it feels like you're not interested." Even if you're not distracted, it can still make people feel unheard.

  • P112. Three mantras for communication philosophy:

    • Presence creates trust.

    • Top of mind is first in line.

    • Focus on Return on Relationship instead of Return on Investment.

  • P116. In the spirit of sharing, Adam offers these ideas picked up from those courses and from his implementation:

    • Don't read scripts. To be effective, you have to speak from your heart.

    • Don't use a teleprompter. Create bullet points and keep them near.

    • Use copywriting formulas like Problem/Agitation/Solution.

    • Spark curiosity by asking a question that viewers don't know the answers to.

    • Ideally, you'd share the most valuable ideas with the highest production quality.

    • Don't worry about how you look or sound. It doesn't matter.

  • P178. Morgan committed to arriving at the office a half hour early and doing five prospecting videos every single morning. As he got comfortable with the process, he was able to record 10, 15, or even 20 videos in the same amount of time. A couple of pro tips he picked up: 45 to 60 seconds is about the right length of videos for people who don't know you yet. Think of them like a movie trailer. Your goal is to spark interest and generate a reply, not provide the entire story.


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