Meetings & Your Brain

A Very Short Guide to Brain-Friendly Meetings

Our brains develop to retain information that seems important and to block out what seems like noise. Here's how to get — and keep — your attendees' attention.

Here are some brain-friendly tips from developmental molecular biologist and Brain Rules author John Medina that are particularly relevant to meeting planners:

1. The brain likes information in chunks. It’s better to give six 10-minute talks than one hour-long lecture.

2. Emotional arousal helps the brain learn. Medina adds an “emotional hook” to every 10-minute section during his talks, because the brain remembers the emotional components of an experience better than anything else.

3. Physical exercise boosts brainpower.  The best business meeting would have everyone walking at about 1.8 miles per hour, Medina says.

4. Sleep loss cripples thinking. For that reason, Medina’s clients who once worked late into the night, now knock off early enough that there is time for exercise and sleep.

5. Brains need breaks. The most common communication mistake is relaying too much information, without spending enough time connecting the dots.

6. Images communicate more effectively than words. A typical PowerPoint presentation has nearly 40 words per slide. “Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images.

And for more about meetings and your brain, see “Audio, Visual, Neurological,” an interview with Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor of Convene.