It’s 2:58 in the afternoon. You are in serious need of caffeine because your lunch of a guac-laden burrito bowl from Chipotle is releasing its sleep potion into your system. (Why do they give you so much guacamole anyway?) But there’s no time to grab a coffee. You have to be in a 3’oclock meeting where Skip, the Chief Project Officer, will roll-out the new strategy for 2021.

Apparently, Skip did not have the burrito-bowl for lunch. He is visibly amped up about this new plan. “I can get through this,” you tell yourself. In an effort to appear riveted, you raise your eyebrows into a fresh Botox stare. This also helps keep your head from bobbing like a satiated toddler on a road trip.

And he’s off! Skip takes you and the team on an expedition through his thoughtfully curated power point slides. There are bullets, and lists. He has fancy charts and graphs, all beautifully branded for synchronicity. And of course, there is data; a lot of data. There are processes, team components, milestones, use cases, and a nice new load of KPIs. He keeps talking. He’s explaining every aspect of the program. He details all the research and how it backs up the concepts and action items.

And at some point, he finally says,
“OK. That’s about it. Thoughts?”
Silence.
“Any questions?”
He waits.
Finally, someone offers up an obligatory comment to fill the air. You discretely sit back, loosen the top button on your jeans and think, “I guess I’m not the only one with a guacamole hangover.”

What could Skip have done differently? He was so passionate, energetic, and fully prepared. His research was organized and substantiated his plan. Today’s Talk to the Brain Tip can aid in beating boredom whether virtual or in-person, with any size audience, and it’s easy to employ! Check out this 2 minute video and learn about a powerful tip that will keep your listeners fully present and intrigued.

Today’s Talk to the Brain Tip is called Question Infusion. Make it a habit to infuse your talks with questions and you will keep listeners listening! But not any random questions will do. The best questions are artfully curated to encourage vulnerability, activate engagement, and spark creative, new perspective. This means that even where there is no literal interaction (a true dialogue), we should still be asking questions. One type is the Leading Role Question. LRQs make our message relatable and relevant to the lives and the work of our audiences. Questions that begin with phrases like have you ever found yourself or can you imagine if actually trigger the listener to imagine their world as it relates to your topic. This will spike dopamine and increase intrigue. It also promotes serotonin, which creates feelings of value to the team, and connection to the speaker.

Another type of question that works especially well with teams is called Say My Name. Let’s start with what not to do. Try to avoid asking the entire team what they think or if they have comments. This is especially awkward in virtual settings, but still a lazy attempt at engagement. When we actually want interaction, asking a question to the entire group is like a bride tossing her bouquet to a group of happily single women. Eventually someone has to grab the flowers just to placate the newlywed. As opposed to tossing the whole bouquet, with a question like “Does anyone have any thoughts?”, carefully question individuals from the group with specific questions like, “Mandy, how do you plan to launch this with your team?” SMN questions do 2 things for the minds of the listeners. When we believe we may be asked a question at any time, norepinephrine is produced, and this keeps us alert. Norepinephrine is produced naturally and is received just like caffeine in the body! And, SMN questions also elevate serotonin, keeping the team feeling valued and respected, therefore making the listener want more of what you have to share.

Today’s Talk to the Brain Tip is to infuse your presentations with carefully crafted questions. Question Infusion is just one of our 10+2 Components of a Winning Presentation. But the brain’s neurotrophins can better manage single diversions from our norm. So for today, I encourage you to infuse questions, using the Leading Role and the Say My Name strategies with your teams and audiences and let me know what you discover!

Love and Cheers,

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