Wake up the Lizard!


Did you know that learning was an emotional process? It’s driven by the release of the chemical dopamine and that is controlled by the emotional part of the brain, called the limbic or sometimes lizard brain. Actually the dopamine suppresses another chemical called glutamate which excites the brain, but too much glutamate and cells die. That’s why we need good old dopamine to keep the whole process in check. You must have dopamine release in the brain to learn anything. It’s the main synapto-genic chemical, meaning that it builds the connections in the brain and that my friend is what learning is!

So what does all of this mean? Well as I mentioned earlier learning is emotional. This means that an emotional connection or engagement with the subject or the person you are learning from will make the whole learning process much more effective. In a previous post I looked at ways that focusing on an emotional outcome rather than simply relaying information made the experience much more memorable. That is the result of the lizard or limbic brain being central in the majority of everything we learn.

This is such a fundamental tenant of great marketing and at it lies at the heart of all storytelling. Stories after all were the original form of teaching and learning. They were so effective because of the simple fact that a story transforms raw information into raw emotions. Most of us don’t have great memories. You may be able to remember a list of 6 things but any more than that and things start to get a little flakey. But once you hear a joke or a story your recall is so much clearer because of that dopamine release and those connections that it helps to build. Emotions help people learn. Learning is how we create memories and positive memories are what all marketing hopes to create – you see where I’m going with this?

Do you have a great story about your brand, your product or your service. Or are you simply stating facts in the hope that someone will be tuned into the right frequency at the exact time you share that information? Good luck with that. What are you doing to make that emotional connection with visitors to your stand or people watching you presentation. Anyone who has ever tried to paint anything knows that in order to get the paint to stick you need to prepare the surface. You have to prime it or the paint just flakes off. Creating an emotional connection is your way to prime the brains of your audience or prospective clients. If you simply slap them with facts and figures then there’s a pretty good chance that they will remember nothing or at best it will be a little flakey.

You would be wise to consider everything you do as being part of the story that you tell. We are all writing our own story all the time, creating memories and associating emotions to our experiences. To be remembered in a positive way be pro-active and focus on creating positive emotions.

About The Author

Peter Wardell

Peter Wardell is an multi-award winning magician and speaker. He has helped companies from a wide variety of disciplines engage with their audience at trade show and exhibitions worldwide.

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