Halo effect cognitive bias

Why we’re all biased and what to do about it

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Have you ever met someone who was immediately likable and sympathetic? It could have been because of the way they spoke or acted. At that moment you were much more likely to trust that person and believe what they say. 

This is called the halo effect. It is a cognitive bias that influences the way we judge others. If we get a positive overall impression of a person because of the way this individual looks and behaves, we tend to automatically assign other positive traits to them as well (like honesty, intelligence, kindness). It’s something we unconsciously do on a daily basis. 

Now, what has this to do with you and your organisation?

How the halo effect impacts your organisation

Young professionals and staff members don’t often get the chance to stand out and be seen by senior management in organisations. So, when they finally get an opportunity to present themselves, that could be a moment that shapes the trajectory of their career. 

If leaders see a clear and convincing presentation, they will probably also attribute other positive characteristics like potential leadership ability, strategic thinking, and problem-solving to the presenter. This employee will have created a positive impression – a   halo – that can have a positive effect further down the road. 

On the other hand, a negative impression can have unfavourable consequences. This is the opposite of the halo effect and is called the horn effect. A subpar performance will create the perception that the person lacks essential abilities. 

What you can do  

As cognitive biases like the halo and horn effects influence our subconscious thinking, it’s virtually impossible to resist them. 

So, what could you do to promote halos and mitigate horns in young professionals, subject matter experts, and staff in general? 

Our suggestion: Identify any skill gaps and address them with a training intervention (for example presentation and communication training). The ability to present and communicate clearly and persuasively gives professionals the power to amplify their other positive qualities. 

Imagine that your employees could learn:

  • A proven approach to creating persuasive business presentations that can be applied to virtually any topic
  • To visualise ideas compellingly, making them easy to grasp for everyone 
  • To present ideas and information with convincing arguments that will leave no doubt with the audience 
  • To engage, delight, and excite the audience, intriguing even the last person in the room 
  • To anticipate and handle difficult questions and situations confidently 

This, and more is part of our The Case Maker™ programme. It could be the right option for you if you’re looking to turn your staff into confident presenters who will positively surprise your senior leaders every time. 

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Posted in Leadership, Presentation Training.

Julia Saxena

Julia Saxena is a senior writer at People Potential. Since working in HR of one of the world's largest banks, she has been fascinated by the human factor in the success of organisations. Julia loves to discuss topics which are on top of HR professionals minds with the aim to improve some workplaces along the way.