How To Get People To Do Stuff: #2 — Break Through A Confirmation Bias

A confirmation bias is a form of “cognitive illusion”. People tend to pay attention to what they already believe and filter out information that doesn’t fit with their opinions and beliefs. You can breakthrough these biases, however. Watch the video to find out how:

For more information check out:

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast And Slow

and my new book (when it comes out in March 2013 — available for pre-order now at Amazon) How To Get People To Do Stuff

In order to get through a confirmation bias, start first with something you know the person or your audience already believes. That way they will let the information/communication in through their attention gate. Once you’ve made it past the confirmation filters you can then slip in a new idea.

What do you think? Have you tried this to break through a confirmation bias?

How To Get People To Do Stuff: #1 — Use Nouns Instead Of Verbs

"I am a voter"This blog post is the first of a new series called “How To Get People To Do Stuff”. It features nuggets from the book I am writing by the same name due out in March of 2013.

I’m also starting a new format of doing video blogs. So first is the video, and then below it is the text that I talk about in the video.

Let me know what you think about the new topic series and whether you like the video format!

Here’s the research:

Walton, Gregory and Banaji, Mahzarin, Being what you say: the effect of essentialist linguistic labels on preferences, Social Cognition, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2004, pp. 193-213.

In a survey about voting, Gregory Walton at Stanford sometimes asked  “How important is it to you to be a voter in tomorrow’s election?” versus  “How important is it to you to vote in tomorrow’s election?”

The first sentence was phrased so that the emphasis was on the noun, “voter”. The second sentence emphasized “to vote”. Did the wording make a difference?

11% more voted — When the the noun (be a voter) was used instead of the verb (to vote), 11% more people actually voted the following day.  Why would nouns affect behavior more than verbs?

Needing to belong — I had always learned that using direct verbs resulted in more action. But if using a noun invokes group identity, that will trump a direct verb. People have a strong need to feel that they belong. People identify themselves in terms of the groups they belong to and this sense of group can deeply affect their behavior. You can stimulate group identity just by the way you have people talk about themselves or the way you phrase a question. For example, research shows that if people say “I am a chocolate eater” versus “I eat chocolate a lot” it will affect how strong their preference is for chocolate. “Eater” is a noun. “Eat” is a verb.

When you are trying to get people to do stuff try using nouns rather than verbs. Invoke a sense of belonging to a group and it is much more likely that people will comply with your request.

What do you think? Have you tried nouns instead of verbs?

Top Ten Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People: #9 — If You Want People To Act You Have To Call Them To Action

Act!

Recently I attended a fund raiser. The speaker got up and gave a pretty good speech (I think he could have used a speech coach!), but at the end he didn’t have a call to action. There were people walking around with jars so you could donate, but no one had actually asked for the money.

In most presentations the reason you are giving the presentation is because you want people to take some kind of action. It might be to donate money, or time. Perhaps you are hoping they will think about a particular issue or topic in a different way. Maybe you want them to do something simple, such as attend a meeting the next day, or make a phone call to a colleague.

The best presentations always have a call to action — One reason is that the call to action gives structure and a “plot” to the rest of the presentation. In my book, 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People I show how to build the structure of the presentation around the call to action.

If you know what you want people to do, then you can figure out what it is you should say and present to them —  What is it that you can ask your audience to do after your talk is over? Where are they at now, where do you want them to be, and what action can you realistically ask them to take?

Consider having more than one call to action (but no more than 3 or 4) — For example, if you are preparing a presentation in order to persuade people to donate to a charity, then the call to action will likely be something like writing out a check for $100 to the charity.

You can have more than one call to action, for example, you could have:

*      Write out a check for $100 or fill out a credit card form

*      Get three friends to donate as well

*      Volunteer to help at the next fund-raising event

At the end of your presentations be very specific about what you want them to do — this is not the time to be vague. Be very specific about what they should do.

What do you think? Have you tried out using various calls to actions in your presentations?

5 Reasons Why Online Video Is So Persuasive

picture of videogenie testimonial
Video Genie lets customers record video testimonials

Let’s say you are browsing for shoes at your favorite online shoe store. You see a pair that looks like what you are looking for, but you aren’t 100% convinced. Then you notice that in addition to the regular reviews written by other shoppers, there is a video you can click on. You click on the video and watch a stream of customers show you the shoe and talk about why they like it. Persuasive? You bet!

Video is one of the most powerful media choices for online persuasion. Here are 5 reasons why:

#1 — Movement in peripheral vision grabs attention — In a previous post I talked about why movement in your peripheral vision is so powerful at grabbing attention. Video online is movement, and so will automatically grab attention more than anything else on the screen.

#2 — Speakers and listener’s brains sync up — In a previous post I talked about the research by Stephens (Stephens, Greg, Silbert, L., & Hasson, U., 2010. Speaker–listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 27, 2010.) that shows that the brain patterns of listeners synch up with the brain patterns of the speaker they are listening to. This means that a video of someone talking  is going to be more powerful than just reading words on a page.

#3 — Video compensates (somewhat) for the asynchronous problem — In a previous post I wrote about the research by Wiltermuth and Heath (Scott S. Wiltermuth  and Chip Heath,  Synchrony and Cooperation, Psychological Science, Volume 20 Issue 1, Pages 1 – 5) on how synchronous behavior bonds people together. A lot of online communication is asynchronous — the communication is not occurring simultaneously in real time. Emails, Facebook posts, twitter posts, are asynchronous. Chat is synchronous. Synchronous communication is, in general, more persuasive. Video can be synchronous (think Skype) or asynchronous (think TED talk or YouTube). But video does have the advantage of allowing you to hear and see an actual person, rather than the more removed reading of text. In this regard it is the most powerful of the asynchronous media.

#4 — Video can convey emotional info, not just factual — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I talk about how important it is to speak to the emotional mid-brain if you want to get your message across and have your message be remembered. Video has the advantage (over just reading text) of communicating social and emotional information, not just facts.

#5 — Video testimonials combine all the powerful elements together — If you haven’t seen Video Genie in action, I suggest you go to videogenie.com and check out their example videos. This is a new technology that allows customers to easily make a video testimonial and post it to your site (you get to moderate it, i.e. watch it before it gets posted). I’ve talked a lot (in books and other posts) about why testimonials and reviews are so powerful (it’s the principle of social validation). Video testimonials are social validation on steroids. Social validation, brain syncing, emotional content… you just can’t beat this for persuasion.

The technology for video is finally getting easier and easier to create and integrate online. (Another interesting example is Vokle.com — it allows anyone to host their own video talk show, live, with people calling in.)

What do you think? Are you using video at your site?