March 1, 2007

Integrating the front and back of your head

This will sound silly to some of you (or all of you), but I have sort of a kindergarten-level explanation for the way my mind works during a presentation.

The "back of the head" is where my content resides. It's the repository of all the information I know about my topic. It's not a place I have to consciously think about; when I need the information, it's there.

The "front of the head" is where my awareness of the moment lies. When I'm giving a presentation, I'm thinking about myriad little details: my movement; my eye contact; my voice pitch, volume and pace; reading the body language of the audience; keeping track of the time; noticing what's working and what's not; noticing if I need a drink of water.

When I give a presentation, my goal is to integrate the things in the back of my head with the things in the front of my head. I want to be effortlessly sharing my information and answering questions while making sure that, in the moment, I'm meeting my audience's needs and not being distracting, distant, confusing, too fast, too slow, etc.

I'm sure there's some scientific and very grown-up way of describing these two activities of the brain, but for me, "front of the head" and "back of the head" work just fine. (By the way, I know my brain works because I recently had an MRI, and let me tell you - my brain is awesome! And kinda cute.)

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