Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School definitely gave me lots of pointers for presentations – and lots of trivia for conversations. (It's also quoted often in the book on public speaking that I'm reading now, Confessions of a Public Speaker.)
Some of the points I found interesting:
- The brain cannot multitask. I knew this but I always think it bears repeating as we act as if we can.
- 10 minutes is the ideal lecture length. The author recommends breaking presentations into 10 minute topics to help the audience pay attention. (Other presentation hints in the same section include organizing your information hierarchical and giving an outline or plan at the beginning of the lecture.)
- Sleep. The author included a lot of interesting data on sleeping. For example, we definitely rehearse things we have learned during the day. And scary facts like
"if healthy 30-year-olds are sleep deprived for six days (averaging, in this study, about four hours of sleep per night), parts of their body chemistry soon revert to that of a 60-year-old."
- Audio and visual together are the best way to learn. "If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture." Good reason to use images and graphs in your presentations!
- Gender changes how people judge actions. When people are described, we judge their actions differently depending on if they are a man or a woman.
- Thinking is the same as doing – to at least part of our brain. When we think about doing something the same neurons fire in our brain that would fire if we were actually doing it.
- Babies less than an hour old will stick their tongue out at you if you stick your tongue out at them. (Wish I had known that when my son was born …)
Brain Rules is an interesting and fun read.