As a speaker and writer, I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the concept of “perception.” After all, in today’s distracted and disrupted world, our perception of everything happens faster and faster. In fact, one study indicates that when we meet someone for the first time, we actually decide within the first 4-8 seconds what we think of that person. Now, scientists are looking at how quickly we make decisions, with a particular focus how our brains combine sensory impressions with memory and emotion to form judgments.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that “Researchers from the University of Houston recorded the electrical brain activity from 431 gallery visitors last year as they explored an exhibit of works by conceptual artist Dario Robleto at the Menil Collection, near downtown Houston. In the low-voltage sizzle of so much neural buzz, the scientists are trying to find how our brains mix sensory impressions of color, texture and shape with memory, meaning, and emotion into an aesthetic judgment of artworks that, at their best, can be both universal and intensely personal.”
The results were remarkable. As writer Robert Lee Hotz described, “As an art critic, the brain is quick to judge. Shown an artwork for the first time, be it a landscape painting, a portrait or an abstract rendering of almost any style, people usually make a snap judgment of its aesthetic appeal. Brain-wave recordings suggest that the neural calculation takes 200 to 330 milliseconds, about as long as a photo flash.”
This suggests why when you see creative work, you know right away whether you like it or not.
What’s the implication? I think it’s huge, and impacts so many areas of our lives. From a job interview, to the production of TV programs or movies, to corporate meetings, advertising, or sharing your faith, that initial perception can make or break everything.
In other words, more and more research suggests that no matter how great your message, brilliant your project, or insightful your pitch, unless you can hook them in the first initial seconds, you’ve failed.
Make an impact and make it quick – seems to be the mantra of the fragmented, hyper-competitive world we live in today.
How could that apply to the particular challenges you’re facing?