Presenting…with the Brain

I happened to get my hands on a copy of the January 2012 issue of Convene, a trade mag for the conference planning profession and was leafing through it when I came across an article about the 2011 NeuroLeadership Summit, which was held in late November in San Francisco.  The conference brought together neuroscientists and business leaders to talk about how the brain’s circuitry affects organizational change.

Quite frankly, I never would have expected neuroscience to be in the pages of a planning magazine.

Defined, neuroleadership is the application of neuroscience to the field of organizational leadership, development, and coaching.  Kind of like the melding of the minds.  It’s designed to help people and the organizations they work in fulfill their potential through better understanding of how the human brain functions at the individual, team and system level.  The purpose of the NeuroLeadership Institute, led by author and founder David Rock, is to generate and share neuroscience research that transforms how people think, develop and perform.

Right up my alley.

Now yes, the article I read was targeted at the dedicated conference planner, but it did provide some insight into neuroleadership and how we can use it in training, which is what caught my attention.

Here are the three things regarding learning that I found of interest and had to share.

#1 Chunk your presentations

No matter how experienced you are, break down your presentation or large training session into small segments.  People can handle about an hour and a half of new content and then tend get overwhelmed with all the new ideas being presented.  Break up the time so the flow is something to the effect of present – ask questions – present – discuss – present, etc.  Rock points out it’s incredibly effective to “just pause, let people digest, and then go on.”  This structure engages the audience and gets their brain involved in the learning.

#2 Nurture dialogues, not monologues

Rather than be a talking head in speaker parlance, structure presentations so content is presented in a conversation style.  Use panels of speakers that are interviewed on stage or in the classroom.  Use a facilitator and have questions prepared to stimulate discussion between the speakers and the audience.  Yes, it does take a lot of work to design this, but the payoff is tremendous.  Not only are people learning, they are creating important connections, brain and otherwise.

#3 Give people a break

Have longer breaks between sessions or training modules.  People need to disengage to have unstructured social time or to catch up on other things.  That social time will create additional conversations and new ideas that can be brought back to the large group for further discussion.

You trainers and leadership developers out there…how many of you are doing this?

I plan to immediately adopt these principles…and, I plan to join the NeuroLeadership Institute, too.  My brain is intrigued to learn more.

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