In case you haven’t seen this animated video of a talk by psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist, it’s worth watching:
Iain clears up popular misconceptions about the function and relationship between the right brain and left brain, and updates our current understanding of the two hemispheres:
- The left brain helps us work with information within a closed system that is fixed, isolated, static, abstract and general.
- The right brain helps us work with information within a broad context that is living, interconnected, changing and individual.
The product of predominantly left-brain thinking is data and bullet points – information that is fixed, isolated, static, abstract and general.
On the other hand, the presentation of this information by one person to other people happens within a broad context that is living, interconnected, changing and individual.
This situation defines the problem we face when we try to communicate left-brain thinking through a right-brain experience – we are actually doing the very difficult work of bridging the two hemispheres of our brain.
Of course, the task is much easier said than done, as the entrenched problems of PowerPoint continue to display on screens everywhere.
After years of working with executives, attorneys and other professionals to bridge the gap between left and right, some of the most effective techniques I’ve come up are:
- Keep switching back to Slide Sorter view, so you continually see the big picture of your presentation and get a feel for how the details relate to the whole.
- Start your presentation with a striking image or anecdote, to activate the right brain at the start and provide the context for the detail to come.
- Immediately reveal the simple structure of your presentation by presenting your key points, to prevent your audience from getting lost in the detail.
Bridging the gap between left and right takes repeated practice – it’s not something that will change permanently after simply reading or book or taking a workshop. But as you stretch your thinking – and your brain – you just might be surprised at how flexibly creative and clear you can be.
What are your favorite techniques for bridging left and right?