Why People Ignore Your Pitch

Have you ever introduced yourself to somebody at a party, and then, literally SECONDS later, immediately feel a pang of PANIC:

You forgot their name!

You saw them, smiled, looked them in the eye, shook their hand, told them YOUR name, they told you theirs…and…


At this point you’ve got two choices:

(1) You can pretend that you didn’t really forget their name, and hope that you won’t be put in the awkward position of admitting so down the road, or

(2) You can sheepishly admit in the moment, “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t paying attention. What was your name again?”

If you take the 2nd option, it’s quite possible that you’ve also instantly given them a sense of relief. Because in all likelihood, they’ve also forgotten your name, too. And now, ironically enough, you have a deeper bond than you might have otherwise had.

Isn’t it funny how the brain works? We try to understand it logically, but the brain has deeper motives, and those motives are often paradoxical. Understanding these paradoxes of the brain are vital to delivering presentations that move people to buy.

Your Brain’s Default Instructions: “Ignore as Much as Possible”

I used the example of a common, mildly embarrassing social encounter that we’re all familiar with to illustrate this basic point: The human brain’s default mode of operation is: “ignore as much as possible.” Unfortunately, “ignore as much as possible” is exactly what prospects do during your teleseminar or webinar presentation…and it happens automatically, just like forgetting a name at a party.

Here’s the good news: once you understand the human predisposition to ignore things, and once you learn to speak to that predisposition, you have the key to crafting a teleseminar or webinar presentation that grabs attention–which is the first step towards moving people to action. Because as you’ll see in just a minute, even if you have the right ultimate solution, you have to get past an ancient filtering system, first.

The part of our brains that is “in charge” most of the time has no interest in self-improvement. The most fundamental part of our brains is programmed first and foremost for survival, and it happens unconsciously. Everything we come across first gets filtered through this survival mechanism before it has a chance to reach the higher cognitive functions in our brains that deal with logic, reasoning, artistic expression, and self-improvement.

The problem is that most people start out their presentations assuming that they’re already speaking to the logical, reasoning parts of other people. And that’s the biggest mistake you can make.

Again: our brains are programmed for survival. Not happiness, not peace of mind, and not fulfillment.

When we come across new information, the first thing our survival-oriented brains need to determine is, “Is it dangerous?” If the answer to that question is “no” and we’re not running away, the next set of default instructions is “ignore it.” And that’s exactly what happens 99.99% of the time.

The “I Know This Already” Box

The reason most things get ignored is what’s known as the “law of familiarity,” which says this:

“Compare what’s being presented to what I’ve already seen. If this looks in any way similar to something I’ve seen before: delete, distort, and generalize it into a box called, ‘I know this already.’ Then forget about it.”

In other words: the more familiar something looks to our brains, the more likely we are to ignore that thing. Here’s why:

Our brains amount to just 2% of our body’s mass, but they consume 20% of our energy requirements. And since processing information is energy intensive, the “lower” parts of our brains–from an evolutionary perspective–act to filter out things that are “already known” as a way to conserve energy and reinforce a pre-existing internal model of reality.

Once you get placed into the “already known” box, your presentation is dead.  You become background noise to your prospect. Her brain looks for something else to deal with: dinner tonight, this weekend’s social plans, and other pre-programmed “safe” patterns that remind her of who she is and the predictable, familiar world she lives in–the same world she was living in before she showed up for your presentation.

Use Novelty and Short Vignettes to Interrupt Default Patterns

The key is to interrupt that default pattern right out of the gate by presenting something that’s unexpected and out of the ordinary, but not scary.

To do that you need to do these three things to open your presentation:

  1. Focus on the HERE and NOW
  2. Create novelty by sharing short, visual vignettes, and
  3. Provide concrete facts.


So focus on the HERE and NOW, create novelty with visual vignettes, focus on facts, and avoid abstract ideas like the plague.

Notice how I started off this article with a short vignette of the common experience of forgetting somebody’s name within seconds of meeting them.

What that did was create just enough intrigue and novelty and formed the foundation for more complex information to come later. It’s a major reason why you’re still reading this right now.

The mistake most people make is that they jump straight to teaching the higher-level, abstract concepts of their program right out of the gate. They attempt to communicate with logic, reasoning, and artistic expression to a part of the brain whose default mode is only capable of determining whether something is dangerous, or should simply be ignored. And the only way to not be ignored without being scary is to be novel and new.

Remember: you have to “earn” your way into delivering the abstract concepts. You must first appealing to that ancient filtering mechanism that demands something new, easy, and safe.

Otherwise, the higher parts of your prospects’ brains–the parts that are used for decision making, creativity, and abstract thinking–will never get a chance to benefit from what you teach.

1 comment for “Why People Ignore Your Pitch

  1. July 29, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Excellent! Thank you.

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