01 March 2007 ~ 3 Comments

Godin on Surprising Broca

Seth had a short but impactful post on his blog earlier this week, about cutting through the clutter of every day life. He wrote:

“But if you want the word to spread, if you expect me to take action I’ve never taken before, it seems to me that you need to do something that hasn’t been done before. It might not feel safe, but if you do the safe thing, I guarantee you won’t surprise anyone. And if you don’t surprise anyone, the word isn’t going to spread.”

I’m confident he didn’t know it, but what he just described is called “Surprising Broca.” Roy Williams first wrote about this technique in his 1999 bestseller Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads. Broca’s Area refers to the region of the brain involved in processing language and, perhaps more importantly, passing it along to the motor cortex (i.e., getting you to do something).

Leap into Roy’s magical world for a moment:

Although none of the neurologists I’ve consulted can positively confirm or deny it, I am convinced that while a speaker uses Broca’s area to arrange his words into understandable sentences, the listener uses Broca to anticipate and discount the predictable. When your listener hears only what she has heard before, it’s difficult to keep her attention.

When speaking or writing, visualize Broca’s area as a theater stage upon which your play will be performed in the listener’s mind, and think of Broca as the theater critic- the judge who will determine whether or not to walk out on your play. If you will present your play on this mental stage and gain the smiling approval of the judge, you must electrify Broca with the thrill of the unexpected.

I suspect Seth and Roy would enjoy having lunch together.

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