Presentation Tips from a Brain Doctor

While everyone else in my family, and perhaps the country, is obsessed with basketball, I’m enjoying a couple of of PBS shows that only come around during fundraising season. One of them features Dr Daniel Amen,  who is a child and adult psychiatrist and  brain imaging specialist.

For those who’ve never seen a PBS fundraising program, I’ll just summarize by saying the network offers a variety of shows that they interrupt every 20 minutes or so with requests for funds. The specials vary from arts to documentaries and seminars. Amen falls into the latter category. Take a 30-second look.


Five things to learn about presenting from Dr. Amen

  1. Use a mantra. Dr. Amen’s is “thinner, smarter, happier.”
  2. Repeat the mantra. Work the mantra into every section of your talk.  Amen will say “on your way to becoming thinner, smarter and happier you’ll also notice…”
  3. Develop a Star Moment. I learned about Star Moments in Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate.  Amen used a couple of them, but the one that grabbed the most attention was when Amen unveiled two large containers holding 70 pounds of fat, representing the amount of weight one of the audience members had lost on Amen’s program. The audience gasped in repulsion.  He picked one of the containers up, noting how difficult it was to carry around. He pointed to them a couple of times later in the talk. As someone who’s carrying the equivalent of one+ of those containers around, that certainly resonated with me.
  4. Balance light and dark. Amen’s topics included obesity, brain injury, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and other unpleasant subjects, which he leavened with dashes of humor and wit. Tough to pull off, but worth the effort.
  5. Practice until it’s graceful. I wouldn’t have remarked on Amen’s choreography without having turned off a different PBS health seminar a few days earlier because the presenter’s movements were mechanized instead of graceful.  The difference between the two programs was the difference between a sixth grader at cotillion and Fred & Ginger. It’s one thing when a colleague’s summary of last quarter’s sales is unpolished, but I expect quality from PBS. Instead, I found myself distracted from the message and picking apart everything the presenter said and did, which was unfair to both of us, but there you have it. I’m fatally human.

Here’s a presentation I did at the International Motorcycle Show in February. I’m open to all constructive criticism.

About Tamela M. Rich

From Charlotte, NC, Tamela writes books, articles, speeches and presentations for business professionals. From "the road" she writes about the people, places and experiences she discovers and the life lessons she learns from them. Invite her to share some of her lessons from the road at your next event!

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One comment

  1. Mind and body, baby! Its true and we’re out to prove it.

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