As genealogical lecturers, we should be aware of two factors: what our audience wants, and what our audience needs.
In order to understand what our audience wants, all we have to do is ask them, and listen to what they tell us.
However, to understand what our audience needs, it is important to understand a little bit about how people learn. This is a relatively new field of research, employing both brain biologists and psychologists. There are numerous theories about how the brain works, and researchers still openly admit how little is actually known. Yet strides are being made.
Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant affiliate with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, published the New York Times bestseller, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School in 2008. This book outlines 12 “Brain Rules” that discuss various aspects of the brain that are currently known, and how these can be applied to our daily lives.
These twelve rules are summarized on the Brain Rules website:
- EXERCISE – Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
- SURVIVAL – Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
- WIRING – Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
- ATTENTION – Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
- SHORT-TERM MEMORY – Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
- LONG-TERM MEMORY – Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
- SLEEP – Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
- STRESS – Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
- SENSORY INTEGRATION – Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
- VISION – Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
- GENDER – Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
- EXPLORATION – Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.
The Brain Rules website contains quite a bit of information, including the Introduction to the book, Chapter Summaries, References, a blog, and several supplemental videos and SlideShare presentations. All of the information can help to inform us both on how we ourselves learn, and how we can teach others effectively.
There is even one presentation included on the site that is specifically designed for this purpose: “Brain Rules for PowerPoint presenters.” The presentation carries the additional credibility of being designed by presentation expert Garr Reynolds, author of the absolutely essential book, Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Garr’s philosophies on presentation use much of what Dr. Medina espouses, and the presentations are highly effective.
In other words,
Understanding how the brain works –> understanding how our audiences (and ourselves!) learn –> providing what our audiences need –> effective presentations