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Are you hearing what I’m hearing?

“We listen to our clients, understand their needs and create communications programs that support their business goals.” – Franco’s vision.

Listening is something we consciously do. However, hearing or perceiving sound, is another matter. A recent unusual PR experience tested our hearing and led to a great team-building exercise.

I helped a client produce an educational webcast. Despite several rounds of testing, we encountered a high-pitch audio feedback during portions of the live webcast. The weird thing was, only some of us could hear it.

We troubleshot the issue and eventually solved the problem, but we were confused why the sound was only audible to some – until we realized that the frequency range of human hearing varies with age. The people who could hear the feedback were younger than those who could not.

As a millennial, I naturally turned to my smart phone for an app to test the theory. I downloaded the “Age of Ears” app for iPhone and the theory held true. The people who couldn’t hear the feedback had a lower threshold of audio frequency.

After client projects, the Franco team gets together to discuss best practices. While discussing the webcast I explained how age impacts hearing. Nobody believed me.

So I pulled out the app and proceeded with a spontaneous team-building exercise. I explained that the app will play a sound that gets progressively higher pitched and asked everyone to raise their hand when they could no longer hear the sound.

Hands began flying up, oldest to youngest; jaws dropping in disbelief along the way.

Some people can hear higher pitched sounds than others. Generally speaking, younger ears can hear a broader range of sound than those that are older. Image courtesy of Mihut84.

Still don’t believe me? Try it yourself with a few friends or colleagues and share the results in our comments section.

We all learned something that day at Franco and it turned into a fun team-building exercise that I’ll never forget.

Joe Ferlito is an Account Director and Director of Operations at Franco.

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