Ever since I heard Dr. A. K. Pradeep, neuromarketing researcher extraordinaire, speak at SXSW this past March, I have been eagerly awaiting his book, The Buying Brain:  Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind.  It’s out now, and I’m not disappointed.  Pradeep applies the new brain science to buying, advertising, and marketing, and the results are extraordinary.  And yes, there are some fascinating implications for public speaking. 

Pradeep’s fundamental insight is that our brains are overwhelmingly unconscious.  We process 11 million bits of information a second – that’s the good news.  The bad news, perhaps, is that only 40 bits per second are conscious.  The rest – 99.99 percent of our mental activity – is unconscious. 

And, of course, as readers of this blog know, most of that mental activity is taken up with keeping us alive, keeping us safe, finding food, attracting mates – just the basics of species continuation. 

Public speakers, like marketers, can either ignore that knowledge and continue to (1) data dump, to (2) present complicated word slides, and to (3) damp down their emotions – and alienate and bore their audiences silly.  Or, they can use the insights of modern brain science to make more compelling speeches:

1.  Keep your presentations simple, very simple. 

2.  Make your presentations about basic issues that matter to our unconscious brains. 

3.  Make your presentations emotional. 

Then we’ll remember what you say.  And we’ll love you, the speaker, for it.

There’s lots more to it, of course, but I’m making it simple for you.  Anyone interested in effective public speaking should grab a copy of this book, devour it, and get to work revamping their presentations and their approach to public speaking.  Your audiences will reward you a thousand-fold.  Actually, something like 10 million-fold. 


  1. Nick–thanks for the great review! Much appreciated. I think your three rules for a great presentation are right on. They are on a sticky note on my office wall!
    CMO, NeuroFocus

  2. Hi, Caroline —
    You’re welcome. It’s a wonderful book and Dr. Pradeep is a fellow traveler in the field of brain science. There ought to be some way we could work together….

  3. It is a great book indeed. With plenty of clear indicators as to how we might “buy” some speakers above others, and so their content. I have already started to work on the “smell” of my speaking — I’m serious.
    It is also refreshing to find Dr. Pradeep’s openness around some shortcomings within the technological pillars that past and present neurological research is reliant on. NeuroFocus’s has been diligent in mitigating these with full brain testing and the removal of data believed to be “noise”. In my mind this gives the findings more strength than some others’.
    One take-away is to be more careful myself when quoting recent brain research as irrefutable fact. To first investigate into how that scientific research was conducted and make a more logical decision in my mind as to how much I can believe its potential validity or not.
    Great book choice Nick,
    Mark Bowden

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