The old brain is completely self-centered. That's why 100 percent of your message should be focused on your audience, not on you. The typical presentation and website contains lots of content relating to you (your history, your people, your values). Your audience needs to hear more about what you can do for them -- before they'll pay any attention to you.
Contrast allows for quick, risk-free decisions. The old brain zeroes in on clear contrasts -- before/after or fast/slow. Without it, the old brain enters into a state of confusion, resulting in a delayed decision or no decision at all. Using neutral statements such as "we are one of the leading providers of ..." can be disastrous. This language does nothing to help your audience quickly sort out information and trigger a decision.
Still with me? This next point really jumped out at me, as I'm making every effort these days to be more direct and succinct with my communications. Because the old brain is not qualified to process written language, complicated words will slow down the decoding of your message -- and place the burden of information processing onto the new brain. Your audience will "think" about making the decision more than they'll "act" on that decision. Using language such as "an integrated approach" is much harder to scan than easy-to-grasp ideas like "more money," "unbreakable" and "24-hour turnaround time."
The decision-making part of your brain is visual. This may be because the optic nerve, which is connected to the old brain, is 40 times faster than the auditory nerve that goes from the ear to the brain. So, we "register" things we see much faster than those we hear. If you see something that looks like a snake, your brain will immediately interpret it as such to propel you to safety, rather than waiting to discern if it really is a snake.
Ignoring your audience's emotions is not an option. If they can't remember your message, how do you expect them to choose your product? Stories are a powerful way to stir up emotions. Good stories have more impact on your subconscious than any fact. You may think your PowerPoint presentation tells a good story when it may actually come across like the Yellow Pages.
For a good story, create a world with sensory details that make listeners feel it really happened. Then clearly connect the story to your audience (client, spouse, parent, child, sales prospect) -- and make sure it has a clear point or punch line.
Whether you agree with the theories in neuromarketing or not, they raise some interesting points by reframing the decision-making process.
As Antonio Damasio says in "Descartes' Error," "We are not thinking machines that feel; we are feeling machines that think."
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.