When you think about it, it is astonishing how often we make important decisions automatically. Less than 5% of our actions each day are from deliberate decisions – so we should probably be aware of how we – and our audiences – are actually making our choices.
We have never thought about everything, and we never will
This is because as humans we don’t have the time, energy, and bandwidth to make all the decisions. The reason is primal, as if we were to absorb and respond to every stimulus around us, every environmental cue, we would go mad.
Which means we need to take mental shortcuts. To make all these decisions we need some pre programme responses. To make automatic, unconscious decisions. And in today’s fast moving, information rich world, we make around 35,000 choices per day, so, we need to take more shortcuts than ever before.
Autopilot is OK!
If we consciously had to make every decision, and didn’t have a subconscious, we would be completely overloaded. So we learn to do things automatically, breath, think, and decide.
Neuroscience research has shown there are 2 sides to our thinking.
So why is this important in our work?
These ‘heuristics’ or ‘shortcuts’ are taken from the ‘cognitive biases’we all have, the rules of thumb that help us make sense of the world. This also means we are vulnerable – to those that use our biases against us.
So we should be very aware of how our own biases are influencing our decisions. And, how others are using these bases to influence us!
The Weapons of Influence
These mental shortcuts (or ‘Weapons of Influence’ as Robert Cialdini famously called them) have been used in sales and marketing for many years, but these strategies are now the new norm. Old marketing is gone, the leading brands now employ behaviour insights teams, and so, it’s time for events to adopt the same strategies!
For example – the classic consumer bias used by brands is the bias that the more something costs, the better it is. ‘Framing’ & ‘Anchoring’ is a popular ploy to take advantage of this, which we will unpack next week.
So, how can you use this for good, not evil?!
First, know what your audience really think
“I’m not rational, and neither are you” – Seth Godin.
We should not assume that the people you want at your event are rational, well-informed, and conscious of the reasons behind their decisions. And, don’t assume that everyone is like you, knows, or wants what you do, or tells the same story that you do. We are complex beings, and there is a lot to consider.
According to the Cognitive Biases Codex, there are 175 biases. That’s a lot to work with.
Given the power of these biases, and that there is so much to learn, I’m sharing information on the relevant biases you should keep in mind.
Why is this important?
Event and Experience Design requires us to understand and influence how people think, and most importantly, how they feel.
“We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.” – Antonio Damasio
Biases influence you’re event, you’re team, and youOur biases will influence the event you design, and you everyday at a personal level. Either in how you react to others, and how they respond to you. So it’s worth understanding the influence they are having on you, and your team. Biases are the norm, but understanding them is not.
Next week we will unpack the biases that may be influencing you, your team, and your audiences. And how we can work with ‘choice architecture’ to influence what people think, and do.
This is all to help you make more influential events, and have more influence as an event professional.
If you need some more help with that, just let me know!