Their ideas are top of mind when we conduct executive communications coaching sessions because that’s often what the business leaders, physicians, engineers and other intelligent leaders we work with are trying to do: Spark change.
Martin recently wrote a column about the peak-end effect in the sales process, but it's also an element that executives should incorporate when working with the news media.
Imagine for a few moments that you have just visited your physician’s office for a routine, yet rather uncomfortable medical procedure and immediately afterwards you are asked how painful it was and how much you are looking forward to the next examination.
By way of contrast now, imagine this much happier scenario. You have just returned from your vacation and you are asked how pleasurable it was and how much you are looking forward to your next one.
If you are like most people who have been asked these questions, then your responses will most likely be influenced by two things. The peak moment of intensity you felt during the experience (pain in the case of the medical check-up or pleasure in the case of the vacation) and the final moment of pain or pleasure (Paying your bill as you leave the medical office or attending the final night gala at the end of your vacation). This is what is known as the peak-end effect.
Peak-end is the brainchild of Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman, who postulated:
“We judge our past experiences almost entirely on how they were at their peak (pleasant or unpleasant) and how they ended. Virtually all other information appears to be discarded, including net pleasantness or unpleasantness and how long the experience lasted.”
We’ve always encouraged executives to focus on not just what they say, and Kahneman’s research reinforces that it's important HOW they say it - brief, clear and with passion - and WHEN they say it.
Almost every interview I ever conducted as a reporter was concluded with the same question. Take a guess what it was. Yes – “Do you have anything else you’d like to add?” Ninety-nine out of 100 times, the person would answer, “No, I think you’ve got it covered,” and probably silently add, “Whew! I made it through the interview!”
It’s a huge wasted opportunity. Instead, executives who end their interviews by repeating their key message or the item they’d most like reporters and the public to take away will have a much better chance of success - and getting their message to stick.