Most of us have had the experience of dozing of during a college lecture or a business presentation. In spite of knowing that such long lectures will put people to sleep, we give the same kind of lectures. But we expect our audience to listen eagerly. Even if your presentation is interesting, important and something that the audience expects – you will not be able to keep their attention unless you understand how the human brain works.
In this article you will learn how the human brain works, how to bring your audience back to attention and how memories are formed in the brain.
Rule #1: The brain remembers in hierarchy
Categorization and hierarchy is a fundamental part of memory formation. Human brain is not like a memory chip which can store continuous stream of data. In your presentation, you need to tell what you are going to tell, tell it and then tell what you have told.
Unless you break up the entire topic into sub-topics, the audience’s brains will try to figure out a hierarchy for themselves and during that process, they can’t pay attention to you! It is a good idea to create an outline or a flow chart with different modules and sub-modules of what you are going to present. Keep referring to this framework as you move on through the lecture.
Rule #2: The Brain can Focus only for 10 Minutes
10 Minutes is the physical capacity of the brain to pay attention continuously. Unless you reset the attention span of your audience every 10 minutes, you will lose their attention. Keeping in mind the previous rule of hierarchy and categorization, you can divide your lecture into 10 minute modules and then you can present them one by one. Once you complete a 10 minute stretch, you need to push a button to reset the attention span and bring back the audience. This button-push should be emotional. It should be something that…
- is nostalgic
- has sexual appeal
- has a sense of fear or excitement
- is humorous
Once that is done, tell the audience where they are in the learning curve and move on to the next module.
Rule #3: Talk to a Single Person
During a lecture we address many people at the same time and sometimes it is easy to forget that the people who are listening are still individual people. When someone is not speaking to you but to an audience of many, you usually lose the interest to listen to them because it doesn’t establish a personal connection.
Imagine that there is only one person in the room. How would you talk? You will use the word ‘You’ many times. My own blog post is a good example. This blog post. The one you are reading. Though this blog post will be read by many people, I always address you as you because though it is one to many communication, you wouldn’t be paying attention if I wasn’t speaking to YOU!
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