The man at the front of the room was saying….something. I knew he must be – his mouth was moving – but my brain couldn’t make out the words. He wore distorted traces of spreadsheets and power point slides as he wandered into the path of the oncoming projector. His monotone voice echoed off the painted cinder block walls to the eardrums of 20 IT professionals.
I was mind-numbingly bored. There was no chance that anything he said was going to remain in my brain past the next 6 seconds.
But then, something amazing happened….
Why do we “check out”?
We take for granted that a presentation – whether in school, business, on a TV show, movie, whatever – is boring. But, why do we “check-out” when something doesn’t interest us – and what determines whether it interests us or not?
This can partially be explained by the way our brain reacts to different types of information. It is thought that we can either be in a “hot cognitive” or “cold cognitive” state. Put simply, a warm brain is emotional and reactive – a cold brain logical and calculating. Numbers and statistics are downtown Antarctica to your brain. This is an analytical and problem solving state of mind that is much more likely to disengage.
A good story takes your brain on an all expenses paid trip to a Caribbean paradise to bask in the sun and listen to the crash of salty water on the earthy sand. We’re all emotions when our brain is warm and it’s almost impossible not to engage.
Something amazing happened..
As I fought the setting of my eyelids, the man at the front of the room suddenly shifted from the bland, technical presentation he had been beating us over the head with and started to tell a story. This story, about an experience he had with a past client, was intriguing, humorous, and provoked emotion. Like meerkats alerted to an intruder, 20 heads suddenly popped up and backs straightened. In the span of 3 seconds it went from a forgettable meeting to hanging on his every word.
You could say that the man at the front of the room thawed our brains. I wandered if he really knew how – given that 95% of the presentation was inanely boring – and I’m sure none of us truly knew the psychology of what happened. The point is that he was able to connect with his audience by appealing to the natural human affinity for story.
This can also be extended to other things. Putting a buyer into a hot cognitive state greatly increases your chances of getting through – and selling your home to them.
How to “warm a brain”
This can be done if you have a worthy approach. All the messaging in every piece of marketing should be written to appeal to the emotional core of the individual. Pictures, written word, arrangement and design – everything tells the story. Numbers and statistics and measurements have their place, but they need to be suppressed and limited, never mentioned more often then absolutely needed. Those things turn a brain cold and calculating.
A minuscule amount people buy a house based purely on the numbers. We start out thinking the numbers are the only thing that matters, but humans don’t make decisions based on stats and specs – on numbers. We make decisions based on how things make us feel. It takes great willpower to go against our emotional tendencies, if we even want to.
It has long been known that the part of the brain at the center of our emotional processing is the amygdala. It has also more recently been discovered that the amygdala likely has a great influence on decision making by triggering involuntary reward and punishment responses to emotional stimuli. Put simply: triggering a rewarding emotional response in your buyer, towards your home, is likely to result in a decision to continue that rewarding response – by buying your home. A positive, warm brain will buy your home.
That decision won’t be based on the square footage or how many rooms it has, although all of that can contribute, it’s based on the way it makes them feel in that moment – and how they predict they’ll feel living in the home for years to come.
This is not meant to be manipulation and we’re not reducing people to just their feelings. It’s an approach that understands how human beings function and uses that knowledge to create the greatest opportunity for a connection. We don’t want anyone to buy something they can’t afford or will end up regretting – we certainly don’t want to try and trick anyone into a purchase.