Effective communication is vital to get staff and contractors aligned and working towards a positive safety culture. Yet, trying to engage your workforce about a new safety initiative through a safety speech is not easy. How we communicate about safety influences whether or not people will accept or reject our safety messages.
The main objective of any safety speech is to motivate staff to take safety seriously and to change behaviour. But how do you encourage behavior change in a workplace speech?
According to the book, “It Starts with a Why”, by Simon Sinek, it’s because a lot of speeches are written from the ‘outside in’. They talk about what the companies does and how. For example: We make high performance vehicles (what) that get you to A to B in style and comfort (how).
But most speeches forget the ‘why’. And the ‘why’ is what relates to your core purpose. It provides an emotional connection to your information. And it’s what inspires your workforce – and your customers.
For example, Apple would say something like “Everything we do challenges the status quo (why), we challenge the status quo by making beautifully designed products (what) that are easy to use (how)”.
To correctly structure your safety speech from the inside out, you need three steps:
- Explain why -Why does your company exist? What is the big picture? Explain why the company’s role in the universe is important. If it no longer existed, what would people miss out on? How do you make your customers’ lives benefit from your products/services? Why is safety important? How does safety fit into the company?
- Explain the situation (what)– Explain what’s been happening and why this can no longer continue.
- Provide clear expectations (how)– Bring out the solution and outline a clear destination. Explain the new rules of the games and what every-one is expected to do and how the new behavior will be measured.
It’s also important to write your speech using a variety of methods to help your audience easily understand the information, as well as have an emotional connection to your content. Use word pictures when you describe information and tell stories whenever you can.
By connecting to your audience on an emotional level first, you can then get your audience to understand the reasons for change. In fact, research has found that by starting a meeting or presentation with positive information, you will expand people’s abilities to think of solutions and be more open to change.