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How the Hidden Science of Sensation will Enhance your Next Meeting

I’ve been reading a new book, “Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence,” by Thalma Lobel. Many of her ideas and cited research apply directly to the meetings realm.

thalma lobel

In short, the book is a collection of insights about how our bodies and minds process information from the physical world. Lobel takes us beyond the obvious to realize that we can maximize and influence outcomes in conversations, negotiations, MEETINGS, and just about any life experience where we want or need to make an impact…all in unexpected, multi-sensory ways.

For simplicity sake, here are just a few of her many findings, in snack-sized bites. For a deeper look, I encourage you read her book.

  • WARMING UP TO F&B: Do you want a prospect or a meeting attendee to “warm up” to you? Be sure to serve a warm—not icy—beverage (and food, for that matter). Choose comfortable, soft chairs, too. In retrospect, these points seem obvious—and yet the possibilities never crossed my mind. Plenty of original research supports this concept.
  • A WEIGHTY POINT: What if you need to ensure a particular agenda item is given enough weight, relative to other meeting topics and/or relative to how attendees may have been perceiving it? Then make a point of adding literal weight to, say, the paper on which you print that agenda item. (If you were going to go all digital, then for this scenario, choose paper—and a thick piece, at that.) Or if you’re in sales, and want an edge against your competition, place your proposal or collateral in a heavy folder. Or have your business cards or your holiday greetings printed on unusually thick card stock.
  • ON THE LEVEL: Does your meeting require consensus building—a leveling of the playing field—to help reach a joint agreement? Then ensure there is no stage in the room so you keep all participants on the same literal level.If some are tuning in to the meeting via Skype or via some other medium that has them visible to the group as a digital image, how can you make sure they are observable at the same “level” as those attending in person? Is the size of the “Skyped” attendee’s head / body proportional to the others’ ? Take time for these details so that when people need to see eye to eye, you’ll be confident that no one person has more perceived power over another based on their physical presence in space.

On a related note, Lobel explains: “…(H)ormone-level test results demonstrate that there is a clear association between our body positions  and our feelings and behavior. Our bodies influence our minds. Simple postures can convey feelings of physical power as well as mental strength. We actually come to feel more emotionally powerful through the ways our bodies feel physically.”

I can sense uncovering more applications of her work to the meeting realm. Stay tuned for future blogs on this topic.