Brain Rules 2 & 7: Improve the presentation experience


In our blog series on the Brain Rules, we look how to improve the presentation experience using John Medina’s findings.

Brain Rules 2 & 7:  Exercise. Sleep.

John Medina’s brain rules state that both exercise and sleep are essential to good brain function. We can’t however go for a run or take a nap during a PowerPoint presentation… no matter how tempted we might be! (Okay, so we’ve probably ALL had a little shut eye time, but perhaps it’s best not to admit that in your workplace). So how can we use these two brain rules to really improve the presentation experience for your audience?

exercise boosts brain power

Let’s take exercise first:

Ever been to a workshop or presentation where the speaker encourages everyone to have a stretch & a break, or just forces everyone to stand up? Although it may feel embarrassing, they are on the right track to boost your cognitive function.

Our brains work best when oxygenated through light exercise. Cognitive function improves activities such as spatial tasks, reaction times, quantitative skills and memory. Not only does oxygen flow help – “Exercise acts directly on the molecular machinery of the brain itself. It increases neurons’ creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.”

Maybe in the future meetings could always be a walking experience? Perhaps we’ll be walking on self-propelling tread mills that actually use the energy generated by the audience to power up the big screen in the ultimate eco-friendly way. You read it here first! …In the meantime, keep your audience alert by using interactive functionality. Encourage them to move a little – even a forced stand up and stretch from their seats will help their attention spans. Other mini-breaks will also help such as: voting, polls, any kind of interaction, change of direction or energy boost, whilst not strictly exercise, will create a little movement that certainly won’t inhibit that oxygen flow. Your own energy is also infectious – a lively presenter will keep your audience awake and therefore more likely to laugh, smile and move a tiny bit in their seats. Little things that will all help improve the presentation experience.

At the other end of the scale is sleep.

We probably don’t want to schedule a nap in the middle of our VIP delivery. No matter how tempting that might be! Ahhhh, sleep is wonderful right? The chance to switch off. Except, apparently we don’t really switch off – our brains are still on the go even whilst resting.

In Mr Medina’s Brain Rules he says “It’s possible that the reason we need to sleep is so that we can learn.” Napping is normal and it’s believed that around 3 p.m., half way through your (typical) daily waking hours, all your brain wants to do is nap.

There’s a battle raging in your head between two armies. Each army is made of legions of brain cells and biochemicals –- one desperately trying to keep you awake, the other desperately trying to force you to sleep.” So perhaps we SHOULD have a nap scheduled in the middle of a conference!

However, let’s simply look at it this way:
1) make sure you are well rested, and 2) do your very best to avoid the 3pm speaker slot…

Good luck with your next presentation! Let us know if we can help… advice, design, animation, tips, etc.