Monthly Archives: December 2011

See how our brains respond to external stimuli ….

I came across this post in LinkedIn by Dr. Preeti Vats – a psychologist and public speaker in the New York area. In her post, she offers some insights on how our brains work and how they are stimulated by external forces – such as your presentations. Very interesting article. Here is her post in its entirety and unedited.


The brain, as I like to describe it, is an incredibly complex series of neural networks. Specific regions and structures—many of which perform multiple functions—are interconnected to (if you will pardon the expression) a mind-boggling degree. Today, thanks to the amazing advances that have been made in neuroscience, we understand a great deal about how these networks operate, and we are able to capture and analyze the brain’s responses to stimuli at the subconscious level and what effects it most positively.

But here I will touch upon some key learnings derived from the thousands of neuromarketing studies that have been conducted around the world. These findings are ones which every speaker can apply almost immediately.

Faces are Fundamental: the brain simply loves faces. Following many millennias’ worth of neurological development and refinement, we are built to search facial expressions for indications of intent. Are you friend or foe? One of our core recommendations is: find ways to focus on faces in your power points , stories, events etc. Your audience’s brain will (subconsciously) thank you for it.

“The brain dislikes sharp edges and straight lines. To the limited extent they exist in nature itself, they represent a threat to the subconscious mind.”

Curves are Critical: the brain dislikes sharp edges and straight lines. To the limited extent they exist in nature itself, they represent a threat to the subconscious mind. Such features can cut, maim, even kill—and they automatically invoke what is known as an ‘avoidance response’ deep in the brain. We are driven away from them, without even being aware of it. So avoid such things in your visual presentations.

Images on the Left, Words on the Right: The brain is built to prefer this presentation. Apply it to everything from advertising your profile to speaking convention.


This is what runs through the mind of a typical person in the audience…..

Oh dear God – why is he showing me 10 bullet points on a single slide that I can barely read?
Why is he speaking in this monotone?
Why did he put the entire book on the screen? Am I supposed to read it?
Why is he standing in front of the screen and reading every bloody bullet point out loud to himself?
Why is he trying to tell the entire history of western civilization in 45 minutes?
Why is he speaking so fast?
What are all those acronyms? Is he presenting the whole thing in Greek?
Where did he get those cheesy clip arts? My 4-year old child would love them.
Is that a three dimensional or 4 dimensional chart?
Wow…look at all those special effects….I see stuff flying in and out from everywhere! My kid would love it.
Oh God…here are another 12 bullet points on the screen……

Will someone please help me…I am about to slip into a coma.

The old horse and buggy rule

I posted on LinkedIn about how one should feel free to use as many slides as necessary in one’s presentation – as opposed to jamming 10 bullet points in one single slide.

One person replied that “But doing that, with one point per slide will increase the total number of slides into hundred. We’re supposed to keep it within twenty.”

Where do you suppose that “keep it within 20 slides” rule come from?

From the horse and buggy days when people were using 35mm carousels at conferences. Since a carousel could only take 80 slides and if there were 4 presenters, the organizer would have to limit each speaker to ‘NO MORE THAN 20 SLIDES”!

But now most computers that I am aware of can accommodate more than 20 slides, I suggest that the old 20-slide-limit rule be thrown out – together with the old horse whip and buggy.

You may have been doing it (cramming 5 bullet points into one slide) for 40 years. That means you have been doing it wrong for 40 years.

The time it takes to talk about 100 points is the same if you present them in 20 slides or 100 slides. You know – 100 pounds of steel weights the same as 100 pounds of cotton.

Go to my website and order a booklet on how to make great presentations.