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Dec 19, 2019 Katelind Hays

Common Brain-Based Presenting Questions Answered

Brain-Based Presenting and Facilitation TipsVirtually There session recap

At some point in your career, you will have to give a presentation or run a meeting.

If you work in the Learning & Development space, there’s a good chance you will have to facilitate training content.

Regardless of whether you assume a role frequently requiring live delivery or one that very rarely demands public speaking, you should know how to capture people’s attention.

Brain-based presenting expert Sharon Bowman recently rejoined the Virtually There series to share her proven approach for getting audiences’ brains to pay attention. You can access the full webinar recording at any time to replay the session to better understand brain-based presenting basics, four attention-grabbing components, and mind-numbing missteps.

Learners came prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to ask Sharon their most pressing questions, and, helpfully, she answered them all with wisdom, insight, and applicable guidance.

How do you get people to participate in your presentations or training events that are reluctant to do so?

That is an excellent question! I have three suggestions you can use any time you have reluctant participants:

  1. Engaging reluctant attendees involves approaches that range from low risk to high risk. The lowest risk activities you can leverage are asking participants to write by themselves, think about something, or doing a pair share (turning to someone and sharing). Reluctant participants do not have to publicly or verbally contribute, allowing them to participate within their comfort zones. Comparatively, high risk activities include asking a participant to answer a question you may not know in front of the audience. I recommend initially thinking about employing something low risk (pair share, think and write) so as not to alarm them.
  2. Try what I call a “right to pass.” Tell people up front that if they don’t want to participate, that’s okay. They can still watch and learn. Some people are introverts and it takes us longer to interact. You’ll never get a whole group participating. Once they feel comfortable, they’ll engage as well.
  3. If they aren’t disturbing or detracting from the learning, leave them alone. Sometimes they don’t engage because they have other things going on in their lives that we don’t know about. Engaging the participants who are actively present is a more valuable use of time than fighting with a few stragglers.

What do you do when you have too much content to cover in your allotted time?

This happens to everyone, including me every time I present. Ask yourself a question: Do I want them to hear it? Or do I want them to learn it? If I don’t care if they learn anything, I can lecture until the cows come home, and that’s okay. If I want them to learn that content, then I have to stop every 10-20 minutes to do something with the content (for at least one minute). Can you stop for 60 seconds to have them stretch and speak or pair share? That’s the way we begin to change how we present.

How do you leverage brain-based presenting with training using company-created slides and scripts?

I’ve been asked this a lot. That's when your company says, “Here’s the script and slides. Present it how other trainers in the company are. The only changes you make are to insert the 15-60 second activities you got from this presentation.” The shift in presentation style doesn’t have to include long activities, and your adaptations don’t have to be on the slides. You can very easily say, “Hey! Let’s stretch and get oxygen to our brains.” There’s no company that would mind you doing that, but you can ask training managers for permission. When you begin training and presenting this way, your company will come to you and say, “What are you doing? People really like what you’re doing, and they learn and use the info.” You’ll begin to change the paradigm for delivering instruction thanks to these tiny activities.

Does the brain forget things that are repetitive or does it already know them so well that it just ignores them when encountering them again?

Whenever we are learning something new, we need to repeat it numerous time (spaced practice), but in different ways so we can move the info to long term memory. This applies to any physical sport, hobby, or playing musical instrument. If we play the same C Scale every single day, we won’t learn how to play music. But if we vary it every time we play it, the brain has to work harder, and we begin to embed it into long term memory. The same goes for any kind of sport that you play or any kind of hobby and learning information in relationship to a job presentation or class. Once we have learned that info, then it moves into unconscious competence. We don’t have to consciously think about it anymore, and in fact, thinking about it will get in the way of our using the info or doing it because we are already competently using it on an unconscious level.

How should I be including movement-oriented brain-based presenting tips when I’m presenting information at work?

Individually, you need to set a timer or put a ribbon on your wrist to remind yourself to get up and move in some way every 20 minutes – get water, stand, or stretch. In a meeting, you can take a few seconds to stretch. If anyone has a disability, they can pass or choose to modify the stretch to work well for them. It’s just to get more oxygen to their brains. Tell them the reason why you’re stopping the delivery of information and the benefits of the activity, and most people will happily take a brief pause to get the oxygen flowing.

If you have more questions about brain-based presenting, be sure to watch the entire session replay here or visit Sharon’s website for additional tips and tricks!


Published by Katelind Hays December 19, 2019
Katelind Hays