How The Brain Learns: Design Presentations That Audiences Remember

How does the brain process information and learn? If you give presentations then these tips may assist your audience to remember and retrieve information that you’ve taught. My notes were written while listening to a lecture given by Dr. Britt Andreatta¹. Her lecture is The Neuroscience of Learning.

1. Definition of Neuroscience of Learning: It is how the central nervous system & peripheral nervous system work together to create and retain new knowledge and skills.²

2. Research shows writing notes long hand or drawing pictures does better for memory retention than typing. It has something to do with the kinesthetic action of writing or drawing and the effect it has on the brain.

3. The hippocampus is divided into two halves which lie in the left and right sides of the brain. The organ is curved in shape.

4. The hippocampus is activated by the oral nerve, olfactory nerve and optic nerve when ever you focus.

5. The hippocampus is the data drive that records short-term memories and then pushes these memories into long-term memory.

6. Studies show, in a learning environment, where some people are distracted and checking their email that this impacts those who are focused. Therefore, before your talk ask people to avoid scrolling on social media or checking their emails.

7. Learn: The brain can intensely focus for 20 minutes and store information. After that it needs a break. Incorporate breaks into your lecture.

8. The brain likes to connect learning to something it already knows. Appreciative Inquiry: Ask people about an experience that they excelled at. This pulls up their successes.

9. Remember: First we learn then we remember. Five ways to do this are metacognition, word play, insight, social and music.

• Metacognition: awareness of one’s own learning. [In the course people were thinking of how they learn]

• Word play: Acronyms: What acronym can your audience come up with that helps them remember and recall what you are presenting?

• Insight: People gain more insight when they do their own research then when they are given all the information.

• Social connection. People learn better in groups.

• Music touches many areas of the brain. Find a way to incorporate music into their learning. [This is one of my insights. I would have people come up with acronyms put to their favorite song and share it with the group]

• Feelings: You are shooting for rewarding, slightly positive feelings.

• Retrieval: People retain better if they have a review of the information that they learned. They retrieve information better after sleeping. Sleep re-activates the circuits of what they have learned. The last hour of sleep is the most important. In the course they suggest waking up naturally.

10. Do: The trigger needs to be:

• Something observable that you can hear or see.

• Baby steps.

• The reward needs to be meaningful.

Things that you may include in your presentation:

• Games/playfulness

• Sharing with others

• Insights/”AHA” moments

• Quiz

• Light competition

• Bring gratitude, mindfulness and humor into your presentation.

Hopefully, some of these tips have resonated with you. Wishing you great success with all of your presentations!

1. Dr. Britt Andreatta is the Director of Learning and Development at

2. Neuroscience of Learning

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