$100m decision: heart or head?
Here’s a statistic that surprises almost everyone who hears it.
Imagine you were the CEO of a large organisation, deciding on a $100 million project.
How much of your decision would be based on tangible facts? And how much on instinct and emotions?
You might think such critical decisions would be based on evidence. Surely emotions and feelings would be irrelevant when the stakes are so high?
Wrong. Very wrong.
Image source: Indiewire.com
According to bid-consulting firm Rogen (no, not the actor), 70% of the decisions of multi-million dollar bid decision makers are based on emotions and instinct.
And only 30% on facts.
Huh? That’s what I hear from most audiences when I share this. But there’s one particular audience I don’t hear it from: CEOs.
CEOs agree: Instinct trumps facts
I’ve shared that finding with several CEO Institute syndicates, and they just nod. ‘Yep. We know.’
When we analyse huge, complex purchases, our rational, left brain ‘fills’ fast. There’s only so much we can keep in mind. So we end up relying heavily on intuition: ‘That company looks good on paper, but I have a bad feeling about them.’
Don’t ignore your hunches. Research shows we’re aware of things subconsciously well before we’re consciously aware. It turns out that the right side of your brain processes information much faster than your left.
Besides that, the fact-based approach can simply fail. If someone has taken a view on an issue, proving they’re wrong is unlikely to budge them. As Druckman and Bolsen found, ‘facts have limited impact on initial opinions’.
The way around this is to use emotion to engage. It’s powerful. That’s the E in the Heath Brothers’ SUCCESs model, from their brilliant book, Made to Stick.
Have you come in late? We’ve covered these from the SUCCESs model so far:
Appealing to feeling: Use emotion to engage
If you want your ideas, messages and presentations to stick, you have to make your audience care. They need to feel something.
For example, in Jamie Oliver’s TED presentation. He could have simply said kids eat X grams of sugar per day. And his audience would have tut-tutted, but forgotten it.
Instead, he emptied a wheelbarrow of sugar on stage. The audience felt horror, shock, disgust, sadness, anger. And they remembered.
How about you? Can you trigger an emotion in your reader or listener to make your point memorable? How can you use emotion to engage?
Of course, you’ll need to decide which emotion to evoke. Fear in teenagers could backfire. Greed could make your boss choose poorly. (A red Lamborghini? For the love of God, why not yellow??)
Here are three keys to generating emotion when you’re communicating at work:
It’s not that people are selfish. Well, okay, maybe a bit. But we’re all definitely caught up in our own world. A world of needs like love, money, security, friendships, confidence, satisfaction.
Image source: w2fm.wordpress.com
WIIFM isn’t the name of a US radio station. It stands for ‘What’s In It For Me?’ It’s Marketing 101, but it’s amazing how often people forget to apply it.
Before you send your message, stop and think about your audience. Stand in their shoes. If you were them, what would be in it for you? How can you engage their self-interest? Will approving your project make their life easier? Will it reduce complaints? Will it get them home earlier?
Perhaps it’s about the people they want to be. Or the people they wish they weren’t. A liberal ladle of WIIFM will dial up the emotion in your messages.
2. The power of association
One of the best ways to get people to care, and ideas to stick, is to associate what they care about with what they don’t.
I saw a great example of this years ago: a TV ad from the UK. It showed a well-dressed small boy climbing carefully down some stairs. Like toddlers do.
He enters an underground public toilet. It’s grotty, filthy, foul.
He goes into a cubicle. Kneels down. And starts drinking water out of a toilet bowl.
The voiceover says, ‘Did you know that, each year, 5 million children in the third world die from drinking water polluted with faeces’ … You get the message.
Suddenly, something we may not care about (the quality of water in developing countries) becomes very real and personal.
Can you do the same with your message? Think about your audience, and their wants and needs. How can you engage those to make your message stick?
Perhaps they care about golf. Can you find a golfing analogy or connection with a project that needs support, or an initiative that needs funding?
The more you can find out about your audience, the more emotional levers you’ll have to connect with and engage them.
3. Identity: Remind them of who they are
We all like to feel part of something. We have an identity. I’m an Australian, a dad, a speaker, a Game of Thrones fan.
Similar to the power of association, can you connect with an identity of your audience and use that?
For example, the state of Texas in the US had a big litter problem. Appeals to common sense failed. So they asked famous Texans to send a message. George Foreman, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan. It worked beautifully.
Maybe you can use your audience’s peers at work, in their sporting club or in their home life to appeal to their emotions.
Logic, facts and reason are great ways to persuade people. But never forget emotions—they’re behind every sticky message. Using emotion to engage is one of your big guns.
Next up: Lucky last—keep an eye out for our last ezine in this ‘Made to Stick’ series. It’s the last S of SUCCESs … coming soon!
Paul & the Magneto/Credosity Team
P.S. Whoa! Wait. I just felt something … yes. There it is again: an emotion. As I’m writing this, thinking about you, I’m feeling … ANTSY. Because some of you think your communication skills are fine. But in my 10 years of corporate training and speaking, I’ve realised a LOT of people suffer from Excessive Self-Regard Tendency. Just in case you have some blind spots (hint, hint), check your writing with Credosity before you send it. Better writing, faster—in Microsoft Word and now Outlook, too. Start your free trial now!