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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

Primal Mind vs Conscious Mind

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

With the 7 days of holiday in the Spring Festival, I can now have more time to work on my blog. One thing is about the books I recommended – the list on the right side of your screen. I want to share with you my thoughts on these great readings!!  Let me first start with “The Articulate Executive – Learn to Look, Act, and Sound Like a Leader” by Granville Toogood. It was very much my first presentation skills book. I have read it twice and referred to it from time to time. The book basically consists of lots of short but practical tips on how to make better business presentations.

There are a few thoughts which I like the most. Let me talk about the first one in this post.

Primal Mind vs Conscious Mind – Granville argues that you got to understand your audience in order to persuade well. And there are 2 separate beings in each one’s mind – the primal mind and the conscious mind. He said ‘…. (the Primal Mind) is the one who kicks the tire and decides to buy the new car, the one who steps thought the door, says “this is it” and decide to buy the new house……’, ‘(the Primal Mind is the guy who makes all the important decisions and runs our lives. Once he’s made up his mind, there’s no going back. He simply says, “this is my decision,” retreats back into the murky depths, and alerts the conscious mind to make a list of ways to justify the decision.’

I find it very insightful. This is the reason why data and figure alone do not persuade people well. This is also why we need human being as a presenter, but not a presenting machine. Granville further wrote about what presenters should do then – we should persuade through OURSELVES, and through DIRECT APPEAL to the emotions.

We should be ourselves. Do what you do when you communicate with friends and family members. (Of course, this is another story if you do encounter difficulty in your daily communication.) I always believe that our own personality is the greatest asset to engage our audience. Especially for those who are starting to think about presentation skills, I do not think specific posture, gesture or facial expression will help. In fact, from a practical perspective, a junior presenter has already too much to worry or be nervous about on the stage. Asking them to memorize mechanical gesture would just make things worse.

Appealing to emotion is another key point here. The implication is that we should use story, picture and analogy to persuade. Or in the training world, it means the experiential activities – let them do it. The ‘Emotion’ chapter on the book Make it Stick summarizes the best various tips we can do to touch the audience’s emotion.

More thoughts about this book to come.

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