Lend me your imagination for a spell… you can well imagine a birthday bun with a single candle in it, can’t you? But hang on, the candle is not a candle, it’s a lit stick of dynamite! Running away, as you would, you notice you have odd shoes on, one purple and one yellow (or one red and one green, or one blue and one orange… but that’s another story…) You pause to catch your breath and rest against a tree – long enough to realise the tree is growing out of concrete – the concrete that reminds you of that time when you most strongly remember wet concrete. Running on again you come to the shop where you can get refreshments. The shop has been so popular in the past that the owner has decide to provide separate doors for when you come in and when you go out. You choose what you want. While you’re waiting to pay for what you want, you notice that there is a nature programme on the store’s TV. It’s about bees and how they communicate to one another concerning where to find the best pollen-rich flowers… only these bees have upped the quality of their game. They are communicating with their waggle-dances on a giant picture of their territory – like some huge game of Twister. Suddenly your heart skips a beat for joy… you here the amazingly moving sound of Japanese Taiko drummers – and are delighted to see a troupe of them walking past, performing.
Just see how much of the story can you recall.
There are six main pointers:
- The dangerous stick of dynamite looking like a number one
- The contrasting shoes
- The tree in concrete
- The in and out doors
- The bees communicating using a big picture visual
- The Taiko drummers beating their drums with sticks, making your heart leap for joy.
All this is to help you remember the message of this blog. It uses two memory systems: a) the story, which may be enough on its own, and b) I’m linking the story to the number rhyme system where one=bun, two=shoe, three=tree, four=door, five=hive, and six=sticks.
Well, that’s the warm up, what’s it all about?
“I’m Just Not Ready to Evolve”
We all need to communicate. Most of us are horrendously busy. Many of us talk too much and hardly listen. All these work against to most well-established part of our brains: the Reptilian Brain. To get people on-board we must first keep the Reptilian Brain happy. The story highlights six ways to do this.
1 Talk about ‘You’ first (ie. them) and not about ‘Yourself’
Like many consultants, I love language, I can be verbose! I like weird descriptors of my services. Blah, blah, blah, blah… My clients, on the other hand, don’t have much time. They need a clear message – a strong message that passes the test of the oldest part of their brain. The so-called Reptilian Brain is the first to develop in the embryo and it is shared by all vertebrates. It is largely unconscious and yet it comes first. In fact the processing in our brain seems to be first Reptilian Brain, then the Emotional Brain, then the higher thinking brain – the cortex that mammals have. It all makes sense. The Reptilian Brain keeps us alive. It assesses threat – remember the stick of dynamite in the bun? And it looks after Number One – You! This is not selfishness, it is survival – and survival comes first.
Too many of our proposals, conversations, and communications centre around the wrong person: me! How about this for a life-changing quote: “A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.” (Lisa Kirk, American Book Publicist) If we want to work with the brain instead of against it we need to focus on you not me. This helps the most established, trusted, and unambiguous part of the brain to go, “this person is OK.”
2 Be Different, Distinct, Contrasting
Remember the shoes? Well your Reptilian brain doesn’t like lots of options. It likes to make split-second decisions based upon clear contrast – as clear and distinct as the contrast between blue and orange, or red and green, or even purple and yellow shoes. Saying you are, “one of the foremost providers of…” is indistinct. When it is your turn to talk about yourself, make sure you’re different. You are the only person who can do the things you do, the way you do… so let people understand exactly what you do, and how this is different to what anyone else can do.
3 Give Concrete Associations
Like pacing and leading in communication, people like to be able to follow the thread. You need to meet them in their world, at their pace, using their frames of reference. This means using associations that they can, well, associate with! I have a strong background in UK TV, films, adverts, and humour. I work Internationally, and the culture doesn’t always jump the gap between the continents. This is why personal stories that others can relate to are often far more powerful than cultural references. Stories bridge the gaps between people, cultures, ages, and beliefs.
4 Primacy and Recency – Beginning and Ending.
Attention is not constant. We remember the Monday and Friday of the week, but dip with the equivalent to the Wednesday of any communication! This means that your message must be strongest at the beginning and ending of your event (remember the in and out doors at the store?) Grab attention at the beginning and hit a home run at the close. There are many keys to keeping attention high, but that’s another blog and book (eh, Jennifer?)
5 Use More Pictures
I am an authority on Accelerated Learning (by which I mean I ‘authored’ a book on the subject, which is supposed to make you an authority!) So I know a lot about learning preferences. However, I still meet people who think they are a ‘Visual’ person, or an ‘Auditory’ learner, or someone with a ‘Kinaesthetic’ preference. Whilst I understand that many people in differing situations have varying lead sensory preferences, we have to face biological facts. Sight is the fastest sense – and the Reptilian Brain sees the need for speed. A picture paints a thousand words – and paints them at the speed of light. Regardless of your own sensory preferences, give your audience (interesting word) the Big Picture every time. This can be via a story that captures the imagination, hence our opening memory story.
Be an Emo! The Reptilian Brain works intimately with the Emotional areas of the next level of mind – the emotional centres. Blah is the new bland – not the new brand. Brand your message into your target audience’s brain with burning emotion and passion.
This is a blog, not a book. Yet it should be enough to make sure you’re working with the Reptilian Brain and not, instead, building barriers to your own success. If you want to dig deeper, I’ve based this blog on an interpretation of the material to be found in “Neuromarketing” by Patrick Renvoisé & Christophe Morin. This book paid for itself within the first 17 pages. Nice one!
Busy people don’t have the time it takes to deep process situations, scenarios, and propositions using the slower yet sophisticated higher brain. Conversationally, they are just not ready to evolve. So keep it simple and stroke their inner Croc!