Transforming the World

Speaking powerfully and conscious listening can lead to a world of connection, understanding, and peace.

Generally, we don’t give much thought to sound except when we put on headphones to tune out what’s around us or when we strain our ears to hear someone at a noisy restaurant. We’ve gotten so used to noise pollution we hardly notice it anymore. Meantime, our fixation on texting and typing emails has dulled our listening and speaking abilities to the point of being detrimental to our well-being. But, becoming aware of sound and its significance can actually improve our lives.

How we speak and how we listen matters; it affects our daily life at home, in the workplace, in school, and relationships. The human voice has been described as being so powerful it can start wars and speak sweet words of love. But speaking and listening effectively today is being overlooked by most people, and we wonder why no one is listening to what we are saying.

These observations are by Julian Treasure, a sound and communication expert. A leading authority on work business sound and personal communication training, he’s been at it for over 20 years. He calls listening “the doorway to understanding,” and that powerful speaking “liberates us to make a difference and be known for who we are.” It’s about understanding that interacting with someone else is a dynamic process.

Treasure has worked with a broad range of companies for years, helping to improve their listening. Now he is taking his skills to the general public so that every person can gain a better understanding through conscious listening, and communicate more effectively by speaking powerfully. Take a moment to watch Treasure present how to get “sound health” in eight steps…

When He Talks, People Listen

Treasure’s five TED Talks have garnered over 100 million views – that’s really saying something for someone who started as a drummer in an indie band. In fact, it was his fascination with music that led him to become a leading sound expert. His messages on sound are grabbing people’s attention all around the world. He authored the book How to be Heard, revealing secrets to powerful speaking and listening. His audiobook version won top world awards for the best business or education audiobook of 2019. His first book, Sound Business, empowers companies to predict the effects and take control of sound to improve every aspect of doing business.

As a speaker, Treasure is highly-rated for his engaging speeches and workshops. He teaches businesses how to change people’s behavior to increase sales and productivity by using appropriate sound. He is often called upon by media and has been featured in publications such as TIME magazine, The Economist, The Times, as well as numerous television and radio stations, websites, and podcasts.

Before becoming a sound expert, Treasure spent 25 years in marketing and contract publishing. During that time, he became chairman of the Association of Publishing Agencies, a director of the Periodical Publishers Association, chairman of PPAinteractive, and chairman of the UK government’s Digital Content Forum. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors, one of 110 livery companies of the City of London, many of which descended from medieval trade guilds. Note that, in keeping with tradition, each livery company’s title begins with “Worshipful Company of…” He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In 2003, Treasure founded The Sound Agency that creates bespoke sound solutions for businesses and environments worldwide. His team and partners help communicate the values of a company’s brand and improve customer engagement and experience. The agency even partnered with a municipality to reduce crime rates, resulting in a 15 percent drop.

Sound Advice

Treasure sees speaking powerfully as a means to change the world for the better. In his TED Talk How to Speak so that People Want to Listen, he asks us to ponder, “What would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing our environments for sound. That would be a world that does sound beautiful and where understanding would be the norm.”

If we want people to listen, we need to begin by breaking certain bad habits. Treasure calls these bad habits “the seven deadly sins of speaking” and lists them as gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, lying, and dogmatism. People naturally migrate away from those. Instead, we need to build up what listeners find attractive. He describes this as “the four cornerstones of powerful speech” and came up with the acronym HAIL standing for honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love.

In an NPR interview, Treasure describes listening as “The most generous gift you can give to another person. And many people have never had that experience.” To improve conscious listening, he shares a few simple exercises: Reset your ears by hearing silence for three minutes a day. Then notice how many channels of sound you hear in an environment; it improves the quality of your listening. And finally, practice what he calls RASA that stands for Receive – pay attention to the speaker, Appreciate – use little noises like “hm,” “oh,” “OK,” Summarize – give a summary using the important word “so,” and Ask – ask questions afterward.

Spaces That Sound as Good as They Look

Treasure is taking on a mission that is life-changing and affects our society, health, education, and business. He’s calling on urban planners, office planners, and interior designers to include sound planners to create “invisible architecture” where sound is integral to the design of an environment. Research shows that noisy environments are detrimental to our health, increasing stress hormones that put us at risk of strokes, heart attacks, and a host of other ailments.

In his TED Talk Why Architects Need to Use Their Ears, he cites startling statistics like students in classrooms missing 50 percent of what their teachers say because of poor acoustics. Teachers are at risk for lower life expectancy when working in noisy environments. By lowering noise levels in classrooms, not only does learning improve but also behavior and results. Hospital noise has spiked in the last few years, and so has hospital dispensing errors. For the patient, sleep is necessary for recovery, but constant hospital noise degrades the quality of sleep and recovery.

According to Treasure, it is not about designing appearance but experience, so that spaces “sound as good as they look, that are fit for purpose, that improve our quality of life, our health and well-being, our social behavior, and our productivity. It’s time to start designing for the ears.”

Dig Deeper

Treasure wants us all to reacquaint ourselves with our most underrated tools, speaking and listening. By tapping into the power of communication, we learn how it brings us happiness and wellbeing. Be sure to watch Julian Treasure’s TED Talks and learn fascinating insights into sound and how to develop personal communication. And to find out more information, visit juliantreasure.com.