Using the NLP Communication Model to Connect with a Large Audience
What is the NLP Model of Communication?
The NLP Model of Communication looks at how individuals process the massive quantities of information that come at them every day. The actual numbers of bits of information that neuroscientists estimate our brains need to process every second are tending upwards.
On average something greater than 26 million bits of information per second comes into our awareness from the outside world via our five senses. However, our brains can only process 126 bits of information per second. This leaves an enormous discrepancy between the amount of information that comes into our awareness and the amount that we can process.
We deal with this discrepancy by feeding those millions of bits coming at us into various buckets of information so that we can process them by bundling them into the broad spectrum of our experience. We use three basic filters to reduce this information to manageable amounts.
Filtering by Deletion
Have you ever said something to somebody only to discover that they later had no memory of the statement, phrase, or question? If you work with children, I am quite confident that your answer was “yes,” because you quickly learn when they did not hear your request. It’s not just children who do this, either. Friends, spouses, family members, colleagues often do not hear or register things we know we said. They aren’t ignoring us deliberately, it is just that they have too much going on inside their heads. This is the process of deletion.
Filtering by Distortion
You may even have said something to a person only to discover that they heard quite a different message because they processed it through their past experience and they have distorted it. This is a classic communication issue when you are talking one-to-one with people and the problem is magnified when you are talking to a group of people because you cannot possibly determine all the distortions that they are applying to your information.
Filtering by Generalization
The third major filter is that of generalization. This happens when specific information is tipped into a bucket that is far more general than the actual information warrants. For example, a prospect may be considering purchasing a particular service that you sell when something you say triggers the general memory of advice never to purchase something you can’t see. As a result of the generalization that takes place out of their awareness they immediately reject your proposal.
By-passing the Filters by Increasing Awareness
Once we understand what is happening outside your prospect’s awareness we can use NLP techniques to bypass the filters using linguistic techniques that waken your prospect’s critical faculty so that they question their unconscious filtering and can make an informed decision. Some people are afraid that NLP techniques reduce awareness and numb the critical faculty, but nothing can be further from the truth. One of the primary results of mastering NLP is that it makes you more aware of your unconscious assumptions and it also helps you draw others into greater consciousness.
Using all the techniques of language and addressing different representational systems, you enable your audience to really hear what you are actually saying and process it objectively. Understanding the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) model of communication does not magically remove misunderstanding but it does increase the number of people who will look critically at your offer and respond positively to it. This makes it a very powerful tool for preparing your presentations and designing the language that you will use.
Whenever you are listening to another person speak at length you going to some degree of trance. This means that in some ways your critical faculty is suspended, while in others it is enhanced. Some people pride themselves on their ability to think critically about everything and to make up their mind once and never change it. Personally, I believe this is the recipe for a very limited way of life and a very limited approach to opportunities. As a speaker, your goal should be to open the eyes of your audience to new ways of seeing and doing things.
When you are speaking to a large group of people, you need to be particularly conscious of your audience’s tendency to delete, distort, and generalize the information you present, and you need to ensure that you awaken their critical faculty. It does not matter whether your intention is to sell products or ideas. If you have no desire to influence a person’s behavior or thinking, then you have no reason to share your ideas because preaching to the converted is a relatively pointless task. On the other hand, if you do want to affect or influence people’s behavior and thinking, then it is in your interests to find ways of opening them up to hear your message and consider it. Understanding the NLP model of communication and the human tendency to delete, distort, and generalize everything they hear is an important part of this process because it is not until you are aware of this tendency that you can use language and other NLP tools to achieve your goals.