Reading Notes For: 

Four Steps to Influence

Step 3: Is This Engaging?

Now that we have our audience’s attention, we need to keep it by not being boring. We do that by fluctuating between stimuli and novelty. And that means more brain science. The cerebral cortex is the brain’s center for learning, logic, and language. It is the target area for problem solving and creativity. This part of the brain loves data, the search for truth, language, problem solving, value propositions, new ideas, and innovation.

Novelty triggers dopamine, and tension triggers norepinephrine, the two neurotransmitters needed to capture attention. This is where many people lost their audiences during the pandemic and virtual meetings. The presenters were boring talking heads that never moved. TV shows and movies use novelty and tension to keep our attention and also get us to return the next week.

In a business setting, the use of visuals, colors, video, powerful music, dynamic voice inflection, and body movement all contribute to making things more engaging. The goal is to keep the audience’s attention.

Step 4: Is This Inspiring?

The final step is to engage the brain’s prefrontal lobe to align future actions with personal values.

The prefrontal cortex is the CEO or the executive center of the brain, and so it determines future actions. Another way to think about it is as a future simulator. It is the last part of the brain to develop—usually not fully until age 25. This part of the brain constantly creates scenarios and looks to the future.

Especially fascinating about the prefrontal lobe is how it connects to the limbic system when trying to decide your next move. That connection determines if the move is aligned with your values. If it’s aligned, you act; if not, you don’t. That’s yet another important reason to connect with your audience and appeal to their personal values.

In most cases starting with the message and value proposition doesn’t work, either. Remember, structure, order, and predictability create safety and security.

On the other hand, if the pitch is to raise money from venture capitalists, the sequence follows an expected protocol—the numbers first and story second.

formed somewhere between the ages of 9 and 13 and are pretty much locked in by age 21.

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