October 2, 2019 ~ 2 min read

The Halo Effect

Weekly TipsSpeakingWriting

The halo effect is a universal human bias that is important to understand to master communication.

The effect is simple: If I feel positively about you in one dimension, I will feel positively about you in others.

If I think you're attractive, I'm more likely to think you are smart, skilled, and honest.

It also goes the other way: If I think you're mean, I'm more likely to think you are dishonest, stupid, etc. Going that direction it's referred to as the horn effect.

Connect as a human first

The halo effect has a very important implication for communication: If you want someone to listen, you need to connect to them as a human first.

And the more reasons you give someone to like you, believe you, think you are smart — the more they will listen to what you have to say.

The halo effect is why small talk at the beginning of meetings is not wasted time, but in fact makes for more effective meetings.

The halo effect is why opening with a joke is an effective technique for speakers.

The halo effect is why you include a personal note at the top of a client email.

Because your audience perceives you holistically, and the more they like you as a person, the more they will listen or read what you have to say.

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Kevin Ball

Hi, I'm Kevin Ball (alias KBall). I'm a software engineer turned trainer and coach focused on communication and leadership skills. You can follow me on Twitter, or check out my software-focused work at Zendev.com.