The Digital Age emphasises image over essence, brevity over clarity, visual over verbal.
The cryptic, the trivial and the instantly gratifying all rule. Reactive skim-thinking, opinion polarity and the pursuit of “likes” is the new normal, in a post-factual world.
And here’s the paradox: we have more ways to communicate than ever before, yet the quality of our actual connection with each other has declined. If you doubt that, try this: type “smartphone” and “interpersonal skills” into any search engine.
The results will bring up a raft of scholarly articles and research reports, as well as many mainstream musings. The broad consensus among them supports the premise that long term over-indulgence in the digital playing field (particularly on smartphones) fosters a more simplistic, self-absorbed outlook and isolating behaviour.
By definition, years of this activity will inevitably weaken anyone’s ability to make strong, productive connections with other people at significant levels beyond the superficial. Like an under-utilised set of muscles, our higher cognitive skills – listening, focus, comprehension, expression, acuity and empathy among them – have become debilitated.
Digital obsessions are changing brain function. Listen to my podcast and learn how we’re all being dumbed down by stealth.
Billions of man-hours in personal productivity are being lost daily to organisations around the world, substantially because of the depletion of interpersonal communication skills caused by the common habits of the Digital Age.
The financial cost to business of poor communication in the workplace has been quantified: an April 2017 study by SIS Research found that this cost exceeds US$5000 per employee per year, in small and medium sized organisations.
To drive down this cost burden on business, a suite of specialist communIQation services has been specifically developed to help upgrade executive or workforce communication skills.
Each of them addresses the individual expressive and cognitive communication deficits faced by organisations – at all levels, in many situations. All services can be adapted to directly target specific issues or problem areas.
The aim is to upskill individuals to reach more productive and satisfying levels of output and achievement, through improved communication outcomes. Hover your cursor over the boxes for details.
The communIQation workshop
An intensive, interactive workshop in 3 parts: how the Digital Age debilitates interpersonal skills; the mechanics of smarter communication; and brain-training to improve EQ. Full day format recommended. Up to 12 participants, typically held off-site.
CEOs and Leaders instinctively have a vision, but sometimes struggle to express it in a way that inspires and galvanises their audience. Julian Smith has global experience on some of the world’s biggest brands, from Coca-Cola down. He can work with you to optimise the form of your messaging.
The communIQation workshop content, condensed for larger audiences. Ideal as a component session in a business or sales conference. Can be adjusted to emphasise different aspects of the communication process.
Length 2 hours.
Many people – from CEOs to Managers – struggle with persuasion dynamics, pacing, timing, projection, audience response and personal presentation at the podium, or in the board room. Drawing on experience ranging from stand-up comedy
to voice-over narration,
Julian can help.
Video is the communication medium of the Digital Age, but few people are naturally telegenic. Julian Smith uses his vast film directing and production experience to draw a better on-screen performance from anyone – from the CEO down.
A powerful 40 minute presentation, in which the wide-ranging challenges of the Digital Age are explained, as outlined on the WHY? page, above.
Provides proof that we need to
modify our Digital habits,
and touches on how to do so.
Hi, I’m Julian Smith. I reckon I’ve developed a fairly unique and diverse range of communication skill sets.
In Advertising, I was a Copywriter, Creative Director, Strategist, Agency founder and Principal.
For seven years, I was the honorary Creative lecturer for the Australian Association of National Advertisers. I ran a popular role-reversal workshop on creativity, lectured on managing the creative process and Production Values as a brand asset.
I have spoken at many industry symposiums in Australia and Asia, lectured for the AFTRS, at Monash University and Macquarie School of Management.
For more than three decades, I have recorded commercial voiceovers. In 2012, I wrote and narrated a documentary TV series.
Further back, for two years I did stand-up pub comedy while also appearing regularly on breakfast radio. All this gave me an early understanding of performance, timing, dialogue and audience response. Which certainly informed my work as a Film Director – take a look at my montage here. I have also worked as a Journalist. And dabbled as a TV actor.
In late 2016, after failing to get one of several movies I have written into production, I turned to another passion project: to write the definitive work on communication in the Digital Age. This is how my communIQation project was born.
For two years I have travelled around the world, researching, reading and writing. My communIQation book is nearing completion and I have shared some of my more interesting coverage on the INPUTS page, below.
Along the way, I have made some astonishing discoveries about how the common habits of the Digital Age have impacted our interpersonal communication skills. After conferring with friends and contacts in corporate HR, I have fashioned these learnings into the communIQation training offerings for companies, as detailed above.
Communication has been my life’s work and I look forward to further sharing my discoveries, experience and skills.
Hundreds of thought-leadership articles, studies and reports, along with dozens of books, have informed my research and thinking on the impact of Digital Age habits and routines on interpersonal communication and connection.
I’d like to share with you a short selection of each. All have provided input to the content of my communIQation book (in development) and the suite of services offered on the HOW page, above.
These articles are all online in the public domain and the links to each are provided – just hover your cursor over the boxes.
Scroll down and at the end you can also access my FREE podcast, The top 5 dumbing down effects of the Digital Age.
The cost to business of poor employee communication.
This is the report referred to on the WHY page. Carried out by SIS International Research, it is an authoritative study on the astounding actual dollar costs to business of poor communication. Read article.
The impact of digital technology on cognitive capacity.
UCLA Psychology Professor Patricia Greenfield finds that while the Digital Age fosters skills in visual and spatial intelligence, they come at the expense of higher order cognitive processes such as critical thinking and analysis. Read article.
15 ways the internet is changing our brains.
It’s not all bad! This succinct excursion through the upsides and downsides of online activity briefly explains the effects the Digital Age has had on the way we think, learn and function. Read article.
Literacy and numeracy skill deficits.
In this Australian Industry Group study, 93% of employers reported a worrying trend: an increasing inability to exercise basic foundation skills among up to 55% of their workforce, which has greatly impacted productivity.
How smartphones stifle human connections.
A remarkable 2014 study which found that the mere presence of a smartphone negatively impacts closeness, connection and relationship quality of “in person” social interactions. Read article.
Mind tricks to make people like you.
Dr Travis Bradberry is a goldmine of information on EQ. Here he discloses 12 valuable, little-known Body Language manoeuvres to enhance connectivity with other people. Read article.
The ten social desires that drive us.
Researcher Hugh Mackay’s 2010 book “What makes us tick” offered profound insights into why we do what we do. Mackay’s ten social desires that drive us are recounted HERE.
Why literary nourishment is critical.
An incisive 2013 speech by British author Neil Gaiman, who explains why reading fiction remains the most superior means of developing empathy and imagination, qualities that fuel innovation and developmental change.
Persuasion: rational thought versus instinct.
This landmark 1980 speech by the late Advertising titan Bill Bernbach offers an excursion into the mechanics of persuasion by a master. (Bias alert: I was once Creative Director of the Melbourne office of Bernbach’s Agency, DDB.). Read article.
Most of the Books I have read for my communIQation project were selected from the 18 miles of shelves at the amazing Strand Bookshop on Broadway at Union Square in New York, so some may not be available over the counter where you live. I commend the following selection to you, for their own specific values at this time in the world.
Written as a contemporary take on Alvin Toffler’s iconic 1970 sociological classic Future Shock, about the disorienting speed of change back then, this book explores the Digital Age’s acceleration of the concept and the impact on contemporary culture, commerce and life.
Daniel Goleman popularised the EQ concept in his landmark 1996 book, but Bradberry and Greaves adapted it for practical corporate application. The principles and practices of EQ are outlined in a clear and usable way in this valuable book.
With an introduction by Martin Scorsese and commendations by luminaries such as British historian, author and TV presenter Simon Schama, Apkon’s important book redefines our understanding of literacy in this visually-dominant Digital Age.
An instant best-seller, this sassy, intelligent and well-researched book specifically addresses the dangers of over-indulgence in the use of smartphones. Then follows up with a workable programme for weaning us off our smartphone obsession.
This book blends extraordinary stories with ingenious science to reveal the surprising causes and often bizarre nature of the behavioural addiction rampant across the technologies of the Digital Age.
Based on 30 months of research Sales carried out across multiple US states, this is an often shocking expose on the alarming ways social media is being used in the lives of teenagers. A window on the usually closed world of teen communication, it makes compelling reading.
We think we understand the workings of social media, but Luckett and Casey take a deep dive into the intricacies of the millennium’s most influential conduit to opinion-shaping and results engineering, exploring the tricks and traps of personal exposition.
Essential reading for anyone with something to sell, especially custodians of brands. McKee and Gerace convincingly explain that in a world where consumers are ignoring, skipping, blocking or avoiding ads, story-based communication is the future of Marketing.
The head of TED instructs us with consummate authority on so much more than public speaking – drawing on lessons from TED speakers, this gem covers many aspects of interpersonal communication, at a time when these skills are in decline.
“I’ve had the great pleasure of partnering with Julian on a number of projects. His grasp of any audience, together with his unique blend of creativity and sensitivity, make his performances both powerfully emotive and delightfully unexpected. Julian is an astute communicator… and his Donald Duck impersonation is priceless!”
“We acknowledge your professionalism and focus on our business and have no doubt that clients in future will be well served by your talent!”
“His well-developed sense of the ridiculous underpins a sound knowledge base in a way that invariably holds the attention. For truly effective communication, get Julian involved.”
“If you can’t get Clive James, get Julian Smith.”
“Julian? More ideas than Scheherazade. And usually, they’re better!”
“Writer, Film Director, Creative Director, communicator – brilliant at all of them, and funny too. Julian’s record speaks for itself.”
“Julian is one of the few astute and truly creative communication strategists in Australia today. He brings good will, flair and intelligence to the task.”