The Science of Good Communications

In a world of information overload, do you know how you like to receive information? Why do we respond to someone’s presentation in a positive way and others in a negative way? Why do we like one journalist’s style over another?  Why do some messages stick with us but others hardly register?


I recently attended The EVENT in Montreal, which is a conference that brings together meeting and event professionals. The conference theme was sensory trends in event planning. One keynote was Gregor Jeffery, who gave a fascinating talk about Communicating with Influence.


His major takeaway? Forget everything you thought you knew; the key to good communication is rooted in neuroscience.


We all have one or more cognitive preferences that determines how we like to receive information. If the information is presented in a way that matches our preference(s), we will respond to it favourably. That means that we also have to consider how our preferences shape the way we present information. If different than the receiver’s preference, our message may be lost.  


Jeffery states there are four cognitive preferences:

  • Analytical thinkers – they require data, evidence and proof and will make their own conclusions based on that.
  • Structural thinkers – they require clear sequence and order and like to be given next steps.
  • Conceptual thinkers – they are highly creative people who are engaged by new ideas and options. They can take unrelated ideas and link them together to form their own conclusion.
  • Social thinkers – they seek personal connections to ideas and if they believe you are authentic, they will tell everyone and advocate for you.


I am an analytical, structural, social thinker, with analytical being most significant. In emails, I am straight to the point. I don’t need lots of words, but I need the right words. If I am emailing someone who is a social or conceptual thinker, they will likely not respond well to my ‘to the point’ approach to communications.


When giving a presentation, you will have all four preferences in your audience, so how you structure your presentation is key.  


The introduction will be important for the structural, conceptual and social thinkers. For structural thinkers, it is crucial to outline your agenda, and state the order of the presentation so they know how it will unfold. For conceptual thinkers, it is key to state your conclusion so they can start making links to things they know. For the social thinkers, you will need to make a connection with them by sharing a personal story.


The body of the presentation is mostly for the analytical thinkers. This is the place where you present your evidence, provide date to support your conclusion, and give them the information they need to validate your conclusion or come up with their own. Don’t expect the conceptual thinkers to pay attention here, they will be off making connections to dozens of other bits of information they had previously encountered. The structural thinkers will be happy you are following your agenda, and the social thinkers will be busy determining if you are authentic and believable.


The conclusion of the presentation is similar to the introduction. This is where you bring the structural, conceptual and social thinkers together again. Both the structural and conceptual thinkers will need you to restate your key points here.


For structural thinkers, the conclusion will need to outline next steps, and for the conceptual thinkers, it should bring them back from their thinking and refocus them towards your conclusion. For social thinkers, this is the point of the presentation they are looking forward to if they connected with you; they want their call to action. What information do you want them to tell others? You should let them know what they can do to advocate for you.


Once you know your preferences and more importantly the preference of those you communicate with regularly, you can communicate more effectively and really be heard and understood. In this era of information overload, that is a nice feeling.


To learn more visit:


Allyson Chisnall is the CFO and COO at MediaStyle.


Also on the Blog