I typically encourage speakers to begin their talk with something attention-getting or provocative: something that will get the listeners’ minds focused on the speech.
Recently, I saw Dr. Lisa Genova speak in the SF Bay Area. She is a neuroscientist, taught neuroanatomy at Harvard and now, an acclaimed author. She self-published her debut novel, “Still Alice.”
Her theme for the evening talk was Alzheimer’s disease and the brain.
Here was her open:
“Look at the person next to you. One of you will get Alzheimer’s and the other will be the caregiver.”
While startling and scary, the whole audience was rapt.
She continued to hold our attention as she explained how the brain functions at the on-set of Alzheimer’s. Yes, she used polysyllabic, medical terms, but then went on to illustrate those terms by weaving in heart-felt stories, as she witnessed the decline of her Grandmother, who was battling the disease.
It was a profound way of talking about hard-to-grasp medical terms and making them tangible and relatable.
She kept her audience immersed by, not only educating us, but making us truly understand the devastating results of this terrible disease.
This is a great example, from which all of us who present, can learn.