|". . . one of the best communications books I've seen in a long time."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
" . . . a practical guide [that] should help readers who struggle with effective office presentations."
Hook Spin Buzz
How to Command Attention, Change Minds & Influence People
Published by Peterson's/Pacesetter | 1996; 231 pages; ISBN 1-56079-524-7 | $15.95US; Paperback
SODEN BEGINS THIS TOUR DE FORCE on business communication by identifying a growing but unrecognized problem: the fact that today's information overload is driving businesspeople to choose from among competing messages by using a largely irrational process.
Lacking the time to evaluate the credibility of every report, fax, and e-mail that crosses their desks, they instead sort through the mass by focusing on what psychologists call heuristics: simple clues likely to yield the best results. One example is the appeal of authority. If a piece of information is endorsed by an expert, most people assume it is more likely to be true.
In this new environment, Soden points out, anyone interested in effective communication (whether an elaborate presentation or a simple phone call) must learn to marshal the power of heuristics.
Standard texts on business communication say little about how heuristics work because their function isn't "sensible," often producing the kinds of decisions businesspeople like to believe they never make. (The feeling of obligation created by the principle of reciprocity, for example, may cause a manager to offer undue attention to one message simply because its sender once did him a small favor.) Trying to ignore heuristics, though, doesn't change what research has proved: that they are powerful and unavoidable.
The author first lays the groundwork for their proper use by citing studies that demonstrate how compelling they can be; how, in controlled situations, they have been shown to dramatically increase the effectiveness of everything from selling sides of beef to advancing in line when waiting at a copy machine.
In the body of the book, Soden presents a three-part guide to building heuristics into everyday business communication: the Hook Spin Buzz method. It begins with crafting a hook that initially attracts a recipient's attention. Next comes spin, the technique of presenting information from the most advantageous perspective. And finally, using buzz, a message can be made to propagate itself beyond the recipient to a larger audience.
In each chapter, Soden highlights a particular appeal and shows how it functions, drawing examples from industries expertly skilled in heuristic use. Anecdotes from advertising, public relations, and politics vividly illustrate each principle in action - including instances when heuristics were ignored, resulting in communications disasters. Interviews with executives, managers, salespeople, and office workers offer practical tips that can be used by anyone in a business environment.
While the book is based on solid psychological research, the author's prose is never overly technical. Soden writes in a lively style, with chapter titles such as "Don't Sell Your Seed, Sell Their Lawn," "Make It Their Idea," "Give In to Win," and "It's Unavailable!" and includes entertaining cautionary tales about how things can go terribly wrong when the influence of heuristics isn't considered.
Unique among business communications books, Hook Spin Buzz offers research-backed help for anyone seeking to communicate ideas with the emotional muscle demanded by today's frenetic business world.
Click here to read an excerpt from Hook Spin Buzz