The Post of the Month
World domination and narratives
- There’s a good reason why Man rules the planet
- And this reason could transform the way you present
What explains Man’s absolute dominion over Earth and its animal kingdom? 100,000 years ago, humans were neither more numerous nor more powerful than most other predators, yet over a few thousand years, they became the planet’s undisputed masters.
In this talk, Yuval Noah Harari, author of the now famous “Sapiens”1, suggests the surprising reason for such a spectacular success.
1. Harari, Yuval N., author. (2015). Sapiens: a brief history of humankind. New York: Harper.
Speaker of the Month
The unifying theory of 2 + 2
People love solving puzzles. We love it because that’s what we’re wired to do, and so we love watching stories that involve riddles. Figuring things out, deducing, deciphering… How does that apply to making movies, aka telling stories? That’s what this talk by a movie-maker is about.
And while we’re at it: notice the (unfortunate) impact of having the full script of your presentation in front of you? Q.E.D…
What’s in it for you?
And then…? And then…?
- The brain remembers things in a particular way
- The need for endings is crucial to presentations and storytelling
In 1927, research psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik2 noticed that the waiters in a Viennese restaurant could only remembered orders that hadn’t yet been completed. As soon as an order had been served and completed, they forgot all about it.
Zeigarnik did then what any good scientist would do: she went back to her laboratory and devised an experiment. A group of adults and children were given between 18 and 22 tasks to do, some physical, such as making clay figures, some mental, such as solving puzzles. Half the tasks were interrupted before they could be completed. By the end of the experiment, the subjects could remember many more of the unfinished tasks than of the completed ones. Twice as many, in fact.
Zeigarnik attributed these results to a state of tension, similar to a cliffhanger: our mind wants to know what happens next. It wants completion. It wants to keep going, and it will keep going even if you try to stop it. Psychologist Arie Kruglanski calls this the “need for closure”3, our mind’s desire to end uncertainty and complete unfinished business.
How might you harness this useful characteristic in your future presentations?
2. Zeigarnik, B. (1938). On finished and unfinished tasks. A source book of Gestalt psychology, 1, 1-15
3. Kruglanski, A. W.; Webster, D. M. (April 1996). “Motivated closing of the mind: ‘Seizing’ and ‘freezing'”. Psychological Review. 103 (2): 263–83.
A woman’s pitch
Study after study shows that speakers with low-pitched voices are perceived to have more competence, leadership qualities and trustworthiness4. It seems that many women have taken this on board. According to Jean Abitbol, an ENT surgeon and speech pathologist author of “Pouvoir de la Voix”5, the frequency of women’s voices has fallen on average by 3 or 4 notes to 50Hz in the space of 50 years.
To speak with a deeper voice, speak from the chest, not from the throat, and do your best impression of a low-pitched man’s voice. This will lower your voice to a mezzo soprano, which is, in general, women’s natural voice.
As a presenter, you will gain in credibility and authority simply by attending to this aspect of your voice.
4. Anderson RC, Klofstad CA (2012) Preference for Leaders with Masculine Voices Holds in the Case of Feminine Leadership Roles. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51216. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051216
5. Abitbol, J. (2016): Le Pouvoir de la Voix. Allary Editions.
Najberg Milne news
Forthcoming open courses in London, Brussels and Paris
– London: 29 & 30 November (Winning Hearts and Minds). Contact us in London at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Brussels: 11 & 12 October (Captiver & Convaincre). Contact us in Brussels at: email@example.com
– Paris: 7 & 8 November (Captiver & Convaincre). Contact us in Paris at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The link of the month
Stand up and thrive
Imagine a school playground… and children using their bodies with an easy, natural enjoyment! Now look around you… For many adults, bodies are a cumbersome means of transport for our brains (as Professor Ken Robinson put it in his famous TED talk), and only get our attention when something goes wrong.
You probably know that sitting all day is now deemed as bad for your health as smoking. What is perhaps less well known is that “sitting can drain brain power and stifle creativity”6. So, stand up to watch the short video below – your mind and body will thank you for it, and you will find out why.