Using Psychology & Neuroscience to End a Presentation.

science-vs-everything-elseRecently, there has been a lot being written about how to finish a presentation. The only problem is that many of the articles either appear to lack a scientific basis for their suggestions or are based on outdated information from the last century. While much of the older research is still valid, there has been a massive amount of new research in neurobiology and neuropsychology over the past few years that has provided vital new information about how to communicate elegantly to influence and persuade audiences.

In an attempt to rectify this situation, I would like to propose the following points be considered:
– One of the most common uses of a presentation is to propose specific ways for the audience to resolve a specific problem or make a certain decision. It is not enough to merely present a range of options and then let the “clients” decide for themselves which one to choose. Often, The people who use this style of “presentation” then expect their clients to discuss the options available and reach their own conclusions! However, the presenter is usually expected to make a detailed, logical and specific proposal based on a range of different elements.

Presenting options:
1. Some presenters appear to consider that it is unnecessary to present options and, instead go directly from the “problem / challenge”, etc., to their “solution”. The word “Solution” implies that there is no alternative! How often is there only ONE possible response? (Also, do we detect a note of imposition in this word / phrase?)

2. It is recommend that we first offer the client 2 or 3 options (based on the rule of three (1)).

3. The 2 or 3 options might be, for example:
Option a) Do nothing, wait and see what happens in the near future. After a general
description, the presenter should briefly outline the good points followed by the bad
Option b) The least preferred option: After a general description, the presenter should,
once again, outline briefly the good points followed by the bad ones.
Option c) Finally, the presenter should outline their “preferred· option starting with the bad points then followed by the good ones. (End-loading (2): last in, best remembered.)

Another alternative based on the “double bind” (3) consists of omitting the first option (above) which is usually implicit in any situation and only give the second and third ones.

– Avoid “My professional recommendation” as it implicitly contains many indicators regarding the speaker’s own perception of self-value which might NOT be shared by the audience. Basically, if you have to tell the audience that you are an expert, you obviously are not!
Related to this is the following: “I recommend this option” = implicit in this communication is:
a. I am the source of all wisdom.
b. You need my guidance.
c. Therefore, you  must accept my proposal
The use of “I” in therapy, mentoring and other types of interpersonal communication is normal when a client is taking responsibility for their own actions / feelings, etc. However these are different linguistic “Communicative Activities” (C.A.) and the participants have different expectations, etc., from a business C.A. such as presentations.

Also, It is interesting to observe the reactions of Alpha Males/Females, Negative responders, Power-game players, audience members with hidden agendas, etc., in an audience where these events occur!

– The presenter should avoid using “You” when referring to the audience & “We” when talking about their own organization: These words indicate subconsciously that the presenter sees themselves or their organization as separate “identities” that are neutral & disconnected from the audience in some way and are therefore less involved in the potential consequences of any decision made.

It is much better for the presenter to use we, us, our, etc., from the very beginning of the presentation which implies collaboration, cooperation and shared aims and objectives. It is much more effective to use language like the following: “When we examine this proposal, we can see that it covers all our interests in the following ways…” – followed by a BRIEF synopsis of how. Please note that the words slip through the logical filter between the conscious and subconscious brain and are processed accordingly.(4)

– Ensure that audience are “moved to action” A.S.A.P. (5) It is vital that the audience do something immediately after the presenter has finished their part of the presentation: A discussion of the proposal could be a starting point. However, If you can get the audience to make a specific decision or action to start the ball rolling, it is much more effective. It has proven very useful to finish the presentation with an “Action Plan” which contains the first and immediate action to take and when, followed by a brief outline of the following steps.

I hope that this brief article will help to resolve some of the problems caused by a lack of knowledge,

All constructive feedback would be appreciated.
(1) The rule of three:
Suzanne B. Shu & Kurt A. Carlson, The rule of three: How the third event signals the emergence of a streak, (2007). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 104 (2007) 113–121
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A.. Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill. (2001)
Suzanne B. Shu & Kurt A. Carlson, When Three Charms but Four Alarms: Identifying the Optimal Number of Claims in Persuasion Settings available from

(2) End – Loading  &   (3) The Double bind:
Eriskson & Rossi (1975); Bodenhamer, Min & Hall (1999); Xiao (2007); Brown & Miller ( 2002); Rosenbach (2002); Cohen & Giangola (2004);

(4) The Logical filter:
Erickson & Rossi (1974, 1975, 1979); Grinder & Bandler (1981); Murphy (2009); Chang (2009); Gilligan (2013); Lankton & Lankton (2014); Zeig & Lankton (2013)

(5) Move to Action.
D. Ariely & D. Zakay, A timely account of the role of duration in decision making. ,Acta psychologica, 2001

(c) Ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., Madrid, Spain, 20 december, 2016

About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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