Take your headphones off but keep listening.
Music, podcasts and audio books are all fantastic and I enjoy spending time listening to all of them but, there is always a but in these types of posts, I don’t put my headphones on when I’m commuting.
I travel to work like most Londoners, on an array of public transport. Its stuffy, packed, often noisy and a fantastic place to observe. A huge part of observation is listening. Listening to conversations, hearing people talk about their lives. Even an quiet tube can be revealing. Listen out of the tiny sounds coming from other people’s headphones.
What are they listening to? Where are they going? Where do they work? It can trigger all sorts of ideas and insights. Working in advertising and marketing, it is easy to think we know an audience just from paper - we don’t. We need to interact and really see people to understand them.
Whenever you get a brief try to imagine the real end user. Not just a persona but dive deeper than that. Try to get to understand your audience, care about them, respect them. We want to create something that enhances or compliments their day. We can only do this when you spend more time observing and engaging with the world around us.
Take the time to truly observe a situation, understand someone, train yourself and hone in. There are always chances to practice. Every long queue, every latr train is a chance to really stop. To watch and to listen.
So next time you’re tempted to pop on your favourite soundtrack from a 1980s cringe fest (we all do that right? Not just me?) , stop. Take it all in around you.