Source: Unsplash

When presenting, try to appeal to all four thinking preferences

We think he looks like Captain Birdseye. The old one, not the new trendy one. Ned Herrmann (Mr Old Birdseye) created a psychometric test in the 1960s. A little like the Myers-Briggs test, but easier to remember. He realised different people thought differently and spent the next 40 years creating a way of understanding which thinking preference we have. The HBDI – Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument. Should you care? Only if you present.

Most people struggle to present in an engaging way. They present in their language. Ned found people have a preference for one of four ways to think:

  • Facts: ever been to a pub quiz and your mate knows all the answers?
  • Form: structure is important to these people. Those that get excited by a plan.
  • Feelings: you walk into a room, and they are the first to say hello, and may touch your elbow.
  • Future: the visionaries. Can be described as ‘head in the clouds daydreamers’. Lots of ideas.

You have a preference for one of these above. And this is how you present. You built the presentation to answer the questions from your perspective. Your language. The downside? If these are four different languages, then you are speaking Dutch to only the 25% of Dutch people in the room. The other 75% switched off because they speak German, Italian and French.

So how do you engage them all? Present to them all. Go beyond just what you need and what your language wants. Hard? Yep. But what’s the alternative? Present just to a quarter of the room? Here’s how:

  • Facts: include the facts of your presentation. Include the numbers and take the numbers to one decimal place, where relevant.
  • Form: include the plan for how to achieve your recommendations, with weeks/months.
  • Feelings: include how people will feel. Add some emotion, eg ‘To close the £10m gap would be awesome! And then we can celebrate together.’
  • Future: ‘in one year the effects of extending the range will be that the frequency of purchase is forecasted to increase from 1.3 to 2.1.’

Appeal to all four thinking preferences and you will engage your whole audience. Plus, the Captain would be proud!