Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2007 National Speakers Association Convention: Day Two

Whoa! So many good speakers, so little time. Today there were two mega sessions (2,300 attendance) and close to 20 breakout sessions at NSA so we can't cover it all. Let's just talk about the speaker that made the biggest impact.

John Molidor, PhD - "Shocking Revelations About What's Going On Inside Your Brain"

John is the dean of the college of Human Medicine at Michigan State--he's one of those smart scientist-types you see on "NOVA" and yet he was able to speak to us in language we could understand. (Keep in mind, the old line about NSA is that it's the only organization around whose members have written more books than they've read.) This is some of the stuff John laid down for us:

  • There are 3 parts of the brain: reptilian (survival), limbic (emotion) and neocortex (thinking).

  • You need to engage all three if you want to be a successful speaker.

  • By the way, when push comes to shove the reptilian always wins. Case in point, if you have to go to the bathroom, learning has left the building.

  • He showed the parts of the brain that "light up" on an fMRI scan when listening to the famous "Starfish Story" for the first time. However, it was interesting to note that a person's brain shuts down (i.e. doesn't light up) when the Starfish Story is told again in the first person. Lesson? When we detect dishonesty our brains don't want any part of it.

  • The brain hates rote. (Hmmm, maybe that's why we didn't enjoy memorizing dates and facts in school.)

  • Smell is the most acute and least used of our senses.

  • You can partially recreate what goes on in the minds of your audience if you describe in a smell or sound in detail. For instance, how do you feel when you walk into a Krispy Kreme when the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign is lit up?

  • How audiences remember: 1) use color, 2) break your presentation up into 25-minute segments, and 3) provide rest time - let them soak it in.

  • Want to be remembered? 1) Know how the brain works, 2) speak to the senses, and 3) create an emotional content

  • PowerPoint slides? Put images on the left and text on the right - your brain will thank you for it.

  • You use WAY more than 10% of your brain.

  • Men and women speak about the same number of words per day.

  • Finally, he deconstructed the oft misapplied Dr. Albert Mehrabian communication study that said communication is 7% verbal, 38% vocal and 55% visual. Really? To test this theory he played a two minute clip of a person speaking Russian and asked if we could gleen 93% of the meaning. We couldn't. Conclusion? Content matters.

Time to Hit Your Stride...

Your Turn #1: What parts of the brain are you not addressing in your presentations? Could your facts and figures be dressed up with a little emotion?

Your Turn #2: How can you invoke all five senses and build emotional connections with your audience?

Happy speaking,

Steve Hughes

Speaker - Trainer - PhD Wannabe

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