It’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say it

I’m back with an exam procrastination post this week.

Did you know that in communication, only 7% of meaning comes from the words that you use?


Seems like such a tiny percent!

The rest is split between your body language (55%), and your vocal elements, tone of voice, volume etc (38%).

Really what this boils down to is that how you communicate your message carries far more weight than the actual message itself.

Now don’t get me wrong, content still matters. It’s just that it needs some help to keep our attention.

Let’s face it, there are just some messages that as consumers – we tune out.

Maybe we’ve heard them a thousand times, maybe, they’re just not fun or engaging.


Take the airline safety instructions for instance.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard it all before.

And even though they always say to pay attention because they may be different, the truth is that most of the time, they’re exactly the same.

So how do you get customers to pay attention to something like this?

Make it interesting!


At least, that’s what Virgin America has based their new safety video on.

How catchy is that!

It got posted to my wall by a friend, and boy was I grateful for such an entertaining study distraction (thanks Laura!)

Virgin America is not the first airline to try a new approach to safety information –


Do you guys remember Air New Zealand’s ‘Nothing to Hide’ Campaign?

I still love this campaign; the cheeky nature of it, and taking a different approach has seen over 7 million people watch their in-flight safety video on YouTube alone.

Getting people to voluntarily watch an in-flight safety video when they’re not about to fly? Impressive.

These airlines have taken an incredibly tired and old message and found new ways to bring it back to life.

If consumers aren’t responding to your message, maybe the problem is not the message itself, but how you’re saying it.

Combining entertainment with information is a great way to keep consumers engaged with the message (infotainment).

Let me know in the comments –

  • Would you be more likely to pay attention to either of the above safety messages than the normal crew member demonstrations?
  • What kind of situations make you tune out when a brand is trying to communicate to you?
  • Can you think of any drawbacks to this type of communication, or situations where it wouldn’t be appropriate?

Until next time,

N. Apple_bitten.svga


9 responses to “It’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say it

  1. Love the Air New Zealand safety video. I rarely pay attention to normal crew demonstrations as it is monotonous, repetitive and has not changed since I first started flying. Qantas use to have John Travolta I think on a video explaining their instructions, that helped. However, after something is so repetitive, I lose interest so quickly. Maybe an opportunity for airlines to increase engagement amongst their passengers?

    • Couldn’t agree more, trying something different and entertaining is a great way for airlines to get across this necessary (yet pretty boring) message. I have to say that watching these, I’ve never enjoyed watching in-flight saftey instructions quite so much 🙂 Did not know about the John Travolta narration for Qantas – that’s for sharing 🙂

  2. Haha it’s so funny that I just read this! You’re not studying for marketing communication by any chance are you? I was just reading the case study involving Air New Zealand literally minutes before I decided to click on and procrastinate from study! I definitely think they have done a great job in capturing attention and shows how you communicate a message is extremely important. And as for tarynnbarrie’s comment… I have to say that Air New Zealand has already caught onto that factor. I have flown with them a few times and they do change the videos. They also created a ‘Hobbit’ themed safety video to coincide with the release of the movie, and also covered the body of their planes with images from the film. Im flying with them in a few weeks so will be interested to see what they currently have. Will keep you updated!

    • Not this semester, but I like how this post actually ties in with some exam study, some productive procrastination 🙂

      Changing up the videos is a great idea – there’s only so long that people will find the same thing entertaining, and I love how they’ve incorporated the Hobbit and tied it back to New Zealand – genius. Definitely keep me posted with any updates they’ve made to their delivery – are you flying to New Zealand?

  3. Love this. I fly pretty frequently, and I can’t remember the last time I actually paid attention to the safety instructions. I watched some of the Virgin video and it was fantastic! Would love to sit through that rather than the regular demonstration, or the animated videos that SAA does! Not only does it make their security instructions more interesting but it also gives their brand a bit of personality, perhaps helping them secure their target market.

    • Exactly, what a great way to bring the Virgin brand to life and keep people’s attention at the same time. Given the nature of Virgin’s brand personality this type of message delivery is a pretty good match, but would you find that as entertaining say from Qantas?

      • I think that although this sort of “young and hip” marketing might not be Qantas’s style, they should still be able to find a way to spruce up their image a bit. And improve on the standard safety video!

  4. Hey Nat, I’m so slack with replying haha!
    I’m flying to Los Angeles but there is a stop over in Auckland. I have flown with Air NZ before and really love them. The planes are beautiful and the service is great. I’ll be on the look out for a new and entertaining safety video and will update you 🙂

    Hope exams are treating you well! Good Luck!

    • Good luck to you too! Don’t even stress, it’s exam time – this is more my stress release (and study break). Sounds amazing, have a great time and hope that you don’t have too much longer to go 🙂

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