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I’m writing this article from Sydney, Australia where I’m on a speaking tour. My wife and I are big fans of opera. Shortly after we arrived, and while still trying to adjust to a much different time zone, we attended a performance of opera arias at the iconic Sydney Opera House.

During that performance, I had an insight I would like to share with you.

Full engagement

Every advisor I meet wants to fully engage with prospects and clients. When I ask what it means to “fully engage,” I get answers ranging from, “I want the other person to be excited about what I saying,” to a more modest, “I want to hold their attention.”

I define full engagement in more technical terms. The brain of the other person must be totally occupied by the interaction with me so there is no room for extraneous thoughts.

However you define it, full engagement is a worthy (but elusive) goal.

A basic misunderstanding

Here’s a mantra I use: When you’re talking, you’re losing.

It’s very difficult to fully engage someone when you’re talking. This is a critical tenet of the Solin Process℠. It’s also very counter-intuitive for advisors, because many of believe prospects expect you to convey information. How can you do that if you’re not talking?

The brain processes information at around 500 words a minute. You speak at around 100 words a minute. This means that 80% of the capacity of the brain is free to wander and daydream or become preoccupied with other thoughts when you are talking. The longer you talk, the more likely the attention of your prospect will drift.

An insight at the opera

I was excited. Not only do I love opera, but I had always wanted to go to the opera house in Sydney.

When the performance started, I was fully engaged. As it continued, I started to focus on sessions I would be conducting in Sydney. How would they go? Would I be able to get the participants to interact with me? Would I be appropriately sensitive to cultural norms? The list went on from there. I was still listening to the performance (which was superb), but I was not fully engaged.