Over the past decade I’ve appeared on dozens of TV shows to talk about the human brain and what we can do to squeeze yet more out of our grey and white matter. I’ve also written a few books on the topic. But my favourite thing to do by far is get up on stage in front of an audience to share my passion for the human brain (or virtual reality) live.
Next month I’ll be speaking at a private event for Honda UK at the home of English Rugby – Twickenham Stadium. I’ll be speaking for just under an hour about the Science of Creativity, outlining what we can learn from humanity’s most innovative creators and describing the scientific evidence relating to approaches to creativity and team work that do (and don’t work). I genuinely cannot wait.
As conferencing continues to find its feet again over the course of 2022 I’m very keen to speak at other events, so thought I’d dedicate this month’s blog to a description of all the different types of keynote talks I can offer. If you’d like to book me for a talk, please contact my very lovely agent: Jo Wander.
List of my Top 7 BRAIN TALKS (+1)
1- Sort Your Brain Out for Business
In September of 2021 the second edition of my best selling book Sort Your Brain Out hit the shelves. I spent much of late 2020 and early 2021 trawling through the latest neuroscience and psychology literature to find even more helpful insights into what we can all do to get our brains working better for us. Just as I updated the book with lots of new material and two brand new chapters, I’ve also updated the Sort Your Brain Out talk that was so popular with business audiences from 2015-2020. It really doesn’t matter what sector you work in. These 12 easy-to-follow (and execute) brain hacks – aka Brain Optimisation Principles – always go down a storm.
2- Neuroscience of Decisions: Insights for Pitching, Sales & Negotiation
My second most popular talk is on the Neuroscience of Decision Making. For example, one of Europe’s “Big Four” auditors completely restructured their approach to pitching for new business in direct response to my talk and went on to win the very lucrative business contract (worth several tens of millions of pounds over the past decade).
In these talks I share the highlights of a large corpus of knowledge generated from nearly two decades worth of neuroeconomic research investigating how we make all sorts of decisions. We explore the various ways in which our brains evaluate the perceived value of a range of choices in light of the associated risks and uncertainties to dictate the final decision. This evidence motivates specific strategies for improving the likelihood that a client or customer’s decisions will ultimately align with business needs.
3- The Science of Creativity
I’ve been running my Neuroscience-Infused Innovation Workshops with international teams from all sorts of different industries for over a decade; from TV production companies to the automotive sector and from professional services to health and safety. It all kicks off with some inspiration from some of history’s best-known creative minds and then moves onto the latest scientific evidence regarding techniques that genuinely boost creativity.
Advising teams on how to foster environments that genuinely stoke an innovative mindset (from the very top of the organisation) involves urging the audience to embrace some of the seemingly unorthodox strategies that really do lead to beneficial outcomes in the long run. Brainstorming doesn’t work, but an evidence-based approach I call “Brain Shaking” does. Several of my clients have gone on to use this approach on a weekly basis as their early experiments proved to be very successful (e.g. a TV development department getting significantly more of their ideas commissioned than prior to using the Brain Shake approach).
4- Building Resilience
From a neuroscience perspective, resilience involves learning to harness the effects of having high levels of stress hormones surging around our bodies and brains, without succumbing to the deleterious impacts of allowing these hormones to stay sky high on a 24/7 basis. A proactive approach to managing stress involves an overview of what stress hormones actually do to help and hinder you, plus a couple of helpful daily habits and a change of mindset that prioritises time for building resilience.
Burn out is increasingly common across many high pressure industries and the rise in home working, eliminating the natural barriers between the home and work environment, has not helped. This talk gives attendees all the knowledge they need regarding how to harness stress hormones to get more out of their brain, without letting it spill over into the realms of chronic stress that can be so harmful for our physical and mental health.
5- Understanding and Reducing Unconscious Bias
Everyone is prejudiced. Some more than others. It may be unpleasant to admit the uncomfortable truth that we are biased against certain groups of people without even being aware of it, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. There is even a simple and free psychological test that can reveal your own unconscious biases, if you have the stomach to take it!
This simple psychological test can reveal unconscious biases against people who look different: whether they are older, have a different skin tone, are overweight, or differently abled. But the good news is that various cunning and imaginative interventions have been identified that can reduce these biases to bring us closer to a world in which everyone is treated equally. If your firm genuinely aspires towards equality – understanding where these biases are lurking and how they can be ameliorated is an absolute must. A big thank you to the National Trust for inspiring me to write this new talk in the first place!
6- Neuroscience of Decisions: Health and Safety specials
A utilities company in the north-west of England, whose Health and Safety record is very nearly perfect, were bold enough to commission me to do some research on strategies that might help them promote better mental health throughout their organisation. I adapted the Neuroscience of Decision Making talks to be specifically tailored to questions of Health and Safety. And we made a series of mini-films together in an effort to provide virtual support to thousands of their staff members through the Covid-19 pandemic period.
7- Science of Sin: Well Being Talks
A few years back I did a talk at the Warner Bros record company Wellness Week on how insights from neuroscience research into the seven deadly sins can help us find greater happiness. I wrote a book called The Science of Sin which essentially boils down to how feelings of social isolation can significantly harm our physical and mental health. The seven deadly sins describe various behaviours that are helpful in moderation but cause social strife in excess. I explain how everyone, whether they believe in God or not (for the record, I do not), would be well advised to keep an eye on their own Pride, Envy, Lust, Greed etc because keeping these primal urges in check helps us to feel socially connected to other people in a meaningful way which leads to less disease of body and mind and thereby promotes a better quality of life.
Virtual Reality: How Will It Transform Your Working Life?
I’ve spent much of the past 5 years developing a broad expertise in all things virtual reality. I have reviewed many dozens of games on YouTube. I have learned to build Virtual Realities using both Unreal Engine and Unity. I work with companies like the World Economic Forum to help them understand how they can use Virtual Reality technology to work more effectively and collaboratively by using it as a supplement to videoconferencing. So I know offer a talk in virtual reality called: BRAIN MAN VR – what can working in virtual reality do for you?
Education Sector Bonus Talk
My brain talks in the education setting were originally usually targeted at students, specifically helping them to understand how best to get their brains into gear as they prepared for examinations. But the Building Resilience in the Work Place talk, has been in high demand with teachers, lecturers and other support staff in recent years. Part of the focus is to understand what the teaching staff can do, in practical terms, to improve their own resilience (i.e. to cope with stress without it spilling over into physical and mental health issues) as well as that of the young people they work with. Special Education Needs Coordinators seemed to appreciate these talks the most.
Or speak to my agent: http://www.jowandermanagement.com/clients/jacklewis