Ep. 76 – Dr. David Brobeck: How FUN Increases Engagement & Retention

Dr. David Brobeck (AKA The Problem-Solving Professor) is a professional speaker and a professor of graduate education at Walsh University. His current academic focus is researching various means to enhancing teaching and learning based on neuroscience. Regardless of the endeavor, David believes learning should be fun – and I agree!


In this interview, Dr. Brobeck shares tips and techniques we can use to make learning fun in order to increase the audience member retention rate, whether we’re presenting, teaching, at work, or at home.


Dr. Brobeck starts every presentation with a slide saying, “If you’re not a fun person, you may hate the session.” He then goes on to explain that, even if you’re not fun, you might want to fake it because the brain can’t tell the difference – and we know people learn more and retain more when there is humor involved.


If you look at the traditional lecture style of speaking, there’s no engagement. It’s just boring data. It’s just not connecting with them, and it creates boredom.


This positive or negative reaction to stimuli, whether genuine or faked, is controlled by our body’s limbic system. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard and TEDTalk presenter, talks about how this system releases endorphins and cortisol into our brain, and how that affects retention.


Laughter releases endorphins, and we learn more when we have endorphins being released in our brain. Conversely, cortisol is released when we need to protect ourselves. So a stressful or boring classroom can actually cause the brain to start to protect itself, and then you don’t learn as much.



You also need to let the brain shift tasks occasionally, if you want it to process and retain information. Dr. Brobeck implements a simple tool called the QRST method:

  • Question – The presenter / teacher / boss poses a question related to the information they are presenting.
  • Reflect – The audience is asked to reflect on this question for 10-30 seconds.
  • Share – They are then asked to pair up and share their thoughts on the question with another person. After 30 seconds, the presenter gets everyone’s attention and tells everyone to switch so the second person can also share their thoughts for 30 seconds.
  • Team – After everyone shares their thoughts with someone else, the presenter asks people to share what their partner told them.


Another powerful and fun presentation tool is storytelling. When people hear a good story, they equate it to their own life – and they climb inside that story with the storyteller, and they start to live with that person. So we remember experiences better when we feel like we’ve had them, and some stories are so powerful that we never forget them.




Click to download the full Transcript PDF.



Improv is no Joke – Episode 76 – Dr. David Brobeck

David: [00:00:00] I tell students if I can’t show you how whatever the concept is doesn’t fit your job, call me out on it because I believe I should do that. I was a theory-based superintendent, but I converted it all to practical language people can understand.


Intro: [00:00:23] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, the man whose name is pronounced like a cocktail but spelled like an inflammation. Peter is the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. Peter’s goal is to provide you with thought-provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.


Peter: [00:01:06] Welcome to episode 76 and today my guest is Dr. David Brobeck, The problem-solving professor, who is a professional speaker and a professor of graduate education at Walsh University in North Canton Ohio. Raised in the shadows of western Pennsylvania steel mills. He holds a bachelor’s from California Lutheran University and a master’s and a doctorate from Kent State University. His current academic focus is researching various means to enhancing teaching and learning based on neuroscience. Regardless of what endeavor, David believes learning should be fun. Let’s get to the interview and learn about the tips and techniques on how we can make learning fun in order to increase the audience member retention rate. However quick note: during the interview David refers to the QRST method, and this stands for question, reflect, share, and then team. Share with the group. So with that being said let’s get to the interview. David thank you so very much for being a guest on my podcast. I am so excited and looking forward to our conversation today.

David: [00:02:24] Peter it’s my honor to be here.

Peter: [00:02:25] David we go back as members of the National Speakers Association. But I remember the first time I saw you I was in Philadelphia at the National Speakers Association annual convention and I said in your breakout session on whole brain teaching techniques, which really opened my eyes as big aha moment about there’s there’s a lot more to the classroom than just lecturing. And I always kind of had a feel for that in teaching the at Ohio Dominican. But you did some things in a very different way. And if I remember correctly you have this belief as I do that learning should be fun.

David: [00:03:07] Well I have a slide in every presentation I do that if you’re not a fun person you may hate the session. Then I explain to them you might want to fake it because the brain can’t tell the difference with fake fun and real fun. But we do know people learn more when there is humor involved, and has to do a hormone release and some other things in the brain function.

Peter: [00:03:27] So you’re a Professor at Walsh University. How did you find this as your passion as far as your research?

David: [00:03:34] I started on early when I shifted from K-12. I was a 35 year veteran of teaching English for 17 years. I was a middle school principal. I was school superintendent in Ohio and then I was hired by Walsh to teach graduate school. One of my grad students I used to challenge them in their capstone course to come up with something that I might not know about and surprised me. And she did a presentation some thing called whole brain teaching. I went on and saw a couple of videos and I was fascinated because it reminded me of two areas: coaching, where coaches often will use different callback and chant techniques, and sometimes in church, and churches will often use something where there is an audience response, whether it’s say amen or some sort of Liturgy where things are repeated. So the school sent me to Louisiana college for the National Brain conference that summer. I met Chris Biffle, the California professor who invented these techniques. And then we started to apply it to the classes we’re teaching because it works. Which opened up the door for me to then continue to study the brain and learning.

Peter: [00:04:44] Well I want to say that I’ve become more fascinated with with the brain and you were in the session when John Mogador came to our NSA chapter meeting and was talking about the brain and how it functions. Obviously you’re well versed in this was my first indoctrination into it really from an audience perspective, and understanding how that audience brains work. And I’ve become so so fascinated with this. Yeah I’ve I’ve read the book Brain Rules by John Medina and in part I want to interview you to learn more about how an audience member — because any time we present anything, we’re transferring knowledge, we’re transferring information. And in my world of accounting, data is pretty boring. And if they’re not looking at the slides, they’re reading the reading the email. But we just– we’re not engaging that audience members brain and helping with that level of retention. So I’m I’m looking forward to your thoughts, your techniques that you use to help increase retention in an audience member, as well as keeping them engaged.

David: [00:05:52] There are some consistencies about the human brain that don’t change from a human being to human being. We’re hardwired for certain things. Every baby is born knowing how to nurse. The police catch people because human beings have patterns of behavior that caused them to do certain things. All of that being said, we also have a lot of studies… I happen to study psychometric … genetics. Many people know Meyers-Briggs or the DiSC system and even the Native Americans used to look at the human brain as having four types of thinking preferences. So when we understand that and we’re talking to an audience, they may be looking at their phone which is a mistake for one reason because the human brain cannot multitask. We we hear that they are all based they’re really good at multitasking. Well they tend to be better at task shifting not multitasking. And the best example of that is if somebody is on the telephone talking when they’re driving and suddenly an ice storm comes up in the cars swearer swerves they stop talking because now the brain is out of automatic mode and is having to concentrate on being able to control the car. So we have certain automatic things and that’s why people think well yeah I can do two things at once. Well you can but you can only do it in certain circumstances. So when you talk about an audience, and you’re trying to engage them, then we need to understand there are lots of different types of thinkers out there – and I’m not talking about learning preference, I’m talking about thinking preferences. So how can I tap into that so that I can make sure that I can touch each audience member? And that becomes then the challenge of the presenter.

Peter: [00:07:29] So how do you how would you assess an audience? Me when I went for a speaking engagement to try to get an idea who who’s in my audience. The composition of it. And most of my most of my presentations are to accountant CPA. So I have an idea. So how should I be structuring that conversation? I like to call it a conversation versus a presentation in order to increase that level of retention for that type of audience member.

David: [00:07:57] Well first of all we know that the greatest professional speakers out there – the Zig Ziegler’s and the Lou Heckler’s – and these people that are fabulous storytellers. Ragini Robertson comes to mind. They all use humor and ways to engage the brain and people remember story better than they remember facts – but most of us don’t have that skill set. So what we need to do is remember that we have to have a structure there, because people expect that. They want to know where we’re going and there has to be a way of doing that. If we present facts — When I was at the session that I did at NSA in Philadelphia in 2013, I did hint at a sheet that said brain facts. I did not list the sources on it but I just listed the facts and I had one person say “Well this has no value. There are no sources.” Well I know that person has an interest in analytical information that I needed to go back and provide data. I got his email address I went back and I gave the source for every site on the handout and I sent it to him. We know people in there liked to engage with each other. We know there are some people who are not. So how can we provide an avenue that we can stop at some point in time and let people talk to each other? The human in the classroom for example we know that allowing students or in this case an audience to talk to each other is one of the ways the human brain processes information, sorts it, and determines that it’s meaningful, because when we switch the speaking function Suddenly we’re at a different level. And then finally the big picture you have people in there that are highly conceptual and want to have a vision. And somehow you touch on that as well. So if we’re we’re organized, we’re making sure we support our our information with back up. If we give people a chance to interact and we give them a big picture, we pretty much touched on the major components of each person in the room.

Peter: [00:09:51] Wow ok I get that. But but with what… Why do something– you brought up laughter. And I tell the story of how I got into the tax side of accounting vs the auditing side of accounting, and it came in my graduate program because my tax professor made me laugh. My tax professor tried to make tax accounting fun, while my auditing professor was just boring us to death with all these facts and it wasn’t fun. What is it in the brain that when we laugh or some some emotionally charged event – what is it that happens at that point in time?

David: [00:10:28] Well if you were to interlock your fingers to the inside and open it up and wiggle them that’s how I demonstrate – this is the inner workings of the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is an emotional area. There’s a professor at Harvard University, Amy Cuddy, who has more of the most watched ever TED talks. She talks about endorphins and cortisol being released from her brain. Laughter releases endorphins. I had a student just quote the movie Legally Blonde because the attorney says she couldn’t have killed him because she exercises and exercise releases endorphins and happy people don’t do bad crimes. Same concept. When you laugh you’re releasing these endorphins. We learn more when we have endorphins being released in our brain. Conversely, cortisol is released when we need to protect ourselves. So a stressful classroom that you fear failure or you fear the professor or it’s boring you to death can actually cause the brain to start to protect itself, and then you don’t learn as much. So it’s the limbic system that causes the reason that laughter you liked it better, and also why you remembered more.

Peter: [00:11:34] OK so cortisol. It’s a defense mechanism.

David: [00:11:39] Cortisol is a hormone.

Peter: [00:11:41] Yeah but it makes the–

David: [00:11:43] Yeah so, in the Cuddy study, what she did. They they took the body language and they compared the Wonder Woman pose with hands on hips.

Peter: [00:11:52] Right.

David: [00:11:52] Or the victory pose with hands over head and signaling a touchdown. Then they had people cross their arms cross your legs and sit and for two minutes and they were observed then they actually gave out energy that was not as positive. People who were crossing your arms are not viewed as quality candidates as those who stood in power poses. Which all goes back to you can control the release of hormones in your body, which is one of the reasons I go back to if you don’t think it’s funny, pretend, because the brain doesn’t know the difference between fake laughter and fake humor and fake enjoyment and real enjoyment. A la nightmares and happy dreams.

Peter: [00:12:29] OK. So if obviously if I if I want the class to be more engaged, I want them to to release the.

David: [00:12:38] Endorphins.

Peter: [00:12:38] Thank you. Endorphins. Does dopamine come into this and all?

David: [00:12:44] Yeah it’s the same type of thing. It’s a positive hormone. I mean they had a study that they did – they showed people scary faces and then they had them sniff oxytocin, which simulates social interaction and support from other people, relational. And they found that the scary faces didn’t frighten them any more. Once the human brain had a chance to socialize another brain. Our brains are highly social. Human beings like to socialize. If it’s it sometimes when you know you sense something from a family member. Women seem to know what each other is thinking. College roommates will often start to menstruate at the same time – I have four daughters. That is a common thing at my house. If they’re all living together all their bodies will go on the same cycle. That’s all brain based. And I don’t know why that was done that way or how or what, but it is factual that those things happen.

Peter: [00:13:42] So we have the ability in the classroom to try to enhance some of that hormone release in our audience. If we know the positive effect it will have. And I would assume that if we if we find ourselves going down the path that we can see that the defensiveness of the protectiveness that we need to change our delivery method in order to help increase learning. Is that a fair statement?

David: [00:14:11] Yeah. Again you just see the greatest speakers out there do all these things. They have emotional connection to the audience. They they have a way of you know maybe the audience turns and talks to each other. You mentioned John Mollet. I felt validated he was there because what I do is different and a lot of people don’t do that and trying to convince a classroom teacher or a college professor to try these things is much more difficult actually than trying to convince a professional speaker to do it. But it does work. I’ve given the example if you ever listened to Martin Luther King Jr. speak – he was very much a whole brain speaker. He would say things and the audience would start repeating with him. He’d have them repeat things he said. Some people say well that was the preaching style. Well it might be but it’s still a speaking style that is effective at getting people to remember what you’re talking about.

Peter: [00:15:05] So that also goes with repetition as well. And I’m trying to remember – I mean 2013 was a long time ago but I was in your class and I know… my colleague Jennifer Elder really took a lot of what you did and was applied it in the classroom. I tried some things and I’m trying to remember what were some of those techniques that you. You taught that day.

David: [00:15:28] Well one of the things that that I do is for example we use gestures. I’ll make a gesture that seems to fit. When I teach a legal and ethical class when I teach the 14th Amendment, which is due process, I take a gesture which I touch my heart and I say life I raise my hands as I’m holding a torch to say liberty. Then I put my hands together and I have my thumbs chase each other and pursuit of happiness. I have the students repeat about three times and I pretty much know at the end of the semester they’ll all remember exactly what that is. And the symbol of the gesture I use for the 14th Amendment is my hands going back and forth as if to tip the scales. That’s one of the things we did. I also I probably don’t remember exactly but I probably taught something that I called QRST. Where I asked a question, I asked the audience to think about the question for a certain amount of time – say anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, 30 seconds is long. I then asked them to share information with one other member. I told my Exactly how much time I would give them to talk, which maybe is 30 seconds. I then used a neurotransmitter break called an off switch where I say a switch and then the audience – you can ham it up by reaching for the sky like you’re pulling down a big switch and you say switch. Then the other person has the exact same amount of time, and we process up with that. Now the purpose behind that from the brain and learning point, and I did this actually I know what you do. I had a roomful of government finance workers at their national convention a couple of years ago. But the idea is by giving a timeframe, we’re going to touch everybody. First of all reflective learners need time to think – just because somebody is a great jeopardy player doesn’t mean they’re the smartest person in the room. It means they can respond quickly. Many brilliant people process and need time. So I give them time to think. They get equal amounts of time to talk and we do that because the introverted learner likes to know exactly what the time frame is and so does the structured person. And oftentimes in a group setting one person starts talking doesn’t stop when they’re asked to switch. The neurotransmitter break is kind of like the phone ringing right as you’re getting ready to lift the punchline of a good joke. And equal time means that then they can process out. I’ll do another thing or if I call in the audience they will say Would you please tell me what your partner said, rather than asking a person to volunteer. That’s safer for people. But here’s the real key. Sometimes people don’t volunteer. I was working with a group of pharmaceutical sales rep last year and no one ever asked to tell me – they said or their partner said. But it doesn’t matter because the brain processes it. They don’t have there we have to tell anyone. They don’t tell you. They just need to tell somebody else. So if you have if you have an audience share and you say would somebody like to tell me what your partner said or would you like some of your ideas, And no one volunteers, move on. Because their brains already done the work. Many people have no need to tell you what everybody is thinking or what somebody else is thinking. They don’t need to share it with the group. Which means if you’re an audience of a thousand where you can’t call people, you don’t have to. Simply give somebody a chance to know you if you’d lectured for 10 minutes if you talked you said you know turn to your partner and tell your partner something… and give them some time to think. The most incredible thing you’ve been thinking about for the first 10 minutes. Give them time to think about it. They sort it. Give them 30 seconds 30. So in the course of two minutes you’ve done a break where each person had a chance to express something. They know and they’re always talking about takeaways and the speaker and make an action plan. But frankly, if you don’t give people to use the talk, that which you said early, and if they’re writing down notes, they’re not listening because you can’t do both.

Peter: [00:19:23] Right so the thing that caught on the earlier story was you were with a group of pharmaceutical reps and nobody said anything, which to me surprised me.

David: [00:19:32] They were quiet. Well I already had a breakdown of the group. So I knew that the group as a whole was introverted at about 75 percent of the people in a room of 30. There was only one actual extrovert identified in a whole room. So I knew they were going to be reluctant and it’s OK because when I actually had them write down some things, then they wrote it down and they wrote down stuff that was brilliant and what they got from it. But if you study Susan Kane, who wrote a book called Quiet, if we try to force an introvert into speaking we’re crushing them. So if they want to speak they can, if they don’t that’s OK too.

Peter: [00:20:20] I was going to say because the pharmaceutical sales reps that I know can’t stop talking so that’s what kind of threw me for a loop there.

David: [00:20:25] This group I think they were. They process it… They’re on the inside. They’re not in the field.

Peter: [00:20:31] Oh OK.

David: [00:20:32] They work for the company. They’re the ones that process this stuff. Maybe a sales rep was a bad a bad term but they are the ones that make sure everything’s on line and they get the information needs to be gotten to the people in the field and to make sure the accounts are done right and whatever the processing is done correctly. They’re the financial backbone of the company.

Peter: [00:20:52] Now that makes sense. I get that. But I do– And you brought this up you said you know after 10 minutes had them do some type of exercise. Have them converse have them write things down have them reflect. I do remember that being in your session and I do try to do that. I find myself at times forgetting ,and full transparency, but it might be 20 minutes later and I’ll have them do a little exercise where they’re conversing with one another and asked to reflect and think about something. Because I guess it goes to your point if we continue– if we take that old lecture style and we’re just talking at that audience and not having them engage with each other, it’s just boring data. It’s just not connecting with them and it creates this boredom.

David: [00:21:44] Correct yeah. And the other part is you don’t know if they’re getting it or not. You can watch… I mean I’ve had people stand and do the share. Can you stand and share. And I told them at the beginning I know some of you won’t be comfortable with this. I hope you’re sitting by somebody you like, and if you don’t have a partner, I would ask that, during the share, say out loud what you’ve been learning. Even if it’s quietly, please say it out loud. Just don’t sit and think about nothing. We know that works too. There’s a process in the brain that when you verbally say something, you’re activating different parts. People listening might be interested. There’s a YouTube video called The Glass Brain Project. It’s out of the University of California at San Francisco. The researcher… an MEG helmet that reads brain wave activity. And he had his wife blink her eyes and open and close one hand. They recreated it into showing exactly how much of the brain fires in those two simple activities. The brain is a powerful thing. It’s not a muscle, but the neurons allow us to grow and have things happen. I just had a cousin. He’s 31 years old who had brain surgery. We’re waiting for the report. But when he’s recovering he’s not permitted to multitask. If he’s watching television no one’s a lot of talk to him. If he’s even going to talk to me, he has to turn the television off. If he wants to talk to people, he has to either lying down or sitting. If he gets up to walk, he’s not allowed to talk. Or watch television. So all of this is to minimize how much is going on because the brain does so many things on simple activities.

Peter: [00:23:24] Wow I would have never thought that, with a brain injury… well let me ask this question. I am I’m a believer that we cannot multitask but someone once said they were a drummer in a band, and said that you can only multitask when using both hemispheres of the brain versus one hemisphere, and he equated it to when he would play the drums. Is that– is he just blowing smoke?

David: [00:23:53] The old thing about that we only use 10 percent of our brains that is false. Roger Sperry was the researcher who first identified our hemisphere of the brain. Now we have you know words and things form on the left side and artistic on the right side. Actually I just got a new slide at the brain summit and the neural pathways and lateralzation… the corpus callosum is the part of the brain in the center that connects the two halves, which by the way bad news for you and me is that the corpus callosum on men is smaller than that of a female brain.

Peter: [00:24:27] Oh.

David: [00:24:28] Which does account for the reason women sometimes can task shift more easily than men can. But no he wasn’t doing it on one side of the brain. When he was playing the drums, when he was learning the new piece, new thing, learning a new new tap rhythm a new whatever it was going to be. My guess is he didn’t do a lot of talking to people. Then once he got the piece down, then it was different. When I was first learning to play the guitar, as soon as I would try to sing a note my hands would stop. I was like my hands just stopped. Well I was functionally trying to do two thinking processes simultaneously. Once I learned a piece from the guitar well enough to play it, then the playing part became the automatic and the singing harp became something I had to work out.

Peter: [00:25:17] Oh ok. I get that.

David: [00:25:18] Tap your head and rub your stomach simultaneously. Little kids have a hard time doing that.

Peter: [00:25:23] Right.

David: [00:25:23] But it’s yeah… his whatever he was doing the drums when he was actually trying to learn a brand new piece, then it took one I doubt seriously he was multi multi tasking. Because I watched a music teacher one time talk to the kids about doing stomp. He played one piece on his left hand another piece in his right hand. His was a third group. And he talked to them during the entire thing.

Peter: [00:25:47] Wow.

David: [00:25:48] I said How did you have four parts your body going simultaneously. He said practice. OK. Looking back on it I see exactly what it was.

Peter: [00:25:59] He mastered one piece then studied the piece.

David: [00:26:03] You know he grew up… he was an African-American who grew up in a church that everything was done by ear. And you had to learn to do things that way or that wasn’t can happen. He was actually a director of bands at Howard University for a while and he’s a jazz musician and all those things come together. But yeah four different things happening simultaneously. One person.

Peter: [00:26:24] Wow. That’s pretty incredible. And I have shared with you that I’m in the process of writing a book with the working title right now, Financial Storytelling. I’m trying to find a way in this book to help those who tend to teach more technical topics, like accounting or taxation or even architecture or engineering, and getting them away from the way we learned many years ago to a more engaging type of a classroom. And the techniques that we all have talked about should go a long way in that development. But I I’ve always found that we learn from what we see. And when I first started teaching, I learned from my previous teachers and their methods. And it wasn’t really till I joined the National Speakers Association and saw different styles and techniques that were completely opposite… Then my my my my world opened up to a new way of delivering information. How does that– how do you get that across to somebody who has been doing something over a number of years? Say 10-15 years a way, and you show them that they can be more effective in the classroom if they apply some techniques, but they’re reluctant to do so – is it because of the risk because of fear or just because of the hard work?

David: [00:28:04] Well the research on it says that people are comfortable in the status quo. The reason that you for example professional speaker is because their income is based on their ability to attract audiences to hire them. So it’s not as risky for them to try a technique if you know you saw Chad Hyams yesterday and the certain things he does that are highly engaging. And how does he do that? We’ve seen Jeannie Roberson and how she uses the story. I remember Jeannie said that she got her storytelling technique from the Andy Griffith Show, Barney Fife specifically, and using using physical movement the way that Barney Fife did. I remember watching her and going back and watched the old Andy Griffith Show and going doggone it there it is. So there’s that element to it. But you know I I’m looking at I mean I had a professor ask you know about getting a higher rating on his feedback form for students. So when I sat down we did an analysis of how he teaches. It was a hundred percent lecture. He started the beginning of the class period the lecture till the end and the technique I taught him was every eight minutes stop and do that. QRST. Have the students talk to each other. Check for understanding because if they’re not getting what you gave them, you got to reteach it. Rather than finding out on the test exam on Friday or the following Thursday or whatever day it is, you have a chance to make the assessment then. So in teaching we call that a formative assessment. Somehow we try to figure out whether they’re getting it or not. That’s one of the reasons it’s important. What you’re saying too is if people understand the power of the story. I teach school law. Now that could be a boring class. When I had it, we had to memorize laws. But I teach it based on experience as a school superintendent and teacher and I tell stories of people who messed up. And the students are like that can’t possibly be true. Yeah, well, I can’t make this stuff up. You know and I have them look up court cases of really weird things that have happened and they’re dumbfounded by– almost like social media. How dumb can you be thinking I can text what I want and nobody’s going to know. No? You’re creating an international permanent record. So it’s the same thing. What you’re asking — why would people why don’t they change? If they’re still getting an income, would taking the change risk losing any income and they worry or are they just comfortable and they don’t have to do anything new and that makes it easier?

Peter: [00:30:30] As you’re describing and talking about this. My son who’s 17 and waited and finally got his learner’s permit. We put him in top driver so he had like 24 hours of in-class classroom and then we’re going to do the eight hours of driving. And I took him his first day of class and the room was on the second floor of Building and it was the old individual desks like you see in an elementary school or something. The room was beige. It just didn’t have this feel for it. I went oh my god my son’s will get thrown out of class or he’s just going to be bored and not remember anything. And when I picked him up I said so how was it. And he went it wasn’t that bad dad, which shocked me for one. And two I said why wasn’t that bad. Because you told a story the whole time. What do you mean he told you stories the whole time? Well instead of like talking out of the book you know there was a concept or something that he would tell these real life stories that kept their attention. He had to go through six weeks of this driving school on a Sunday from one to about five o’clock and never complained once about going and always left remembering. To the power store, even that you know like a driving school.

David: [00:31:58] The other thing that happens the story is go back to neurons, we have mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are why when you watch a movie you cry even though it’s two dimensional. It’s being done by actors. We cry or laugh at a movie because we have these neurons fire when we empathize with other people and we see other things going on. So when people are hearing stories, they’re also equating that to their own life because they have had things that have happened to them – and they climb inside that story with the storyteller, if they’re good, and they start to live with that person. So we remember experiences better and we’ve had them, and you know and some stories are so powerful that we never forget them. For whatever reason you know it’s sometimes there’s just something that’s incredibly powerful like people remembering where they were when 9/11 happened or I remember where I was… I’m old enough that I was in school when John Kennedy was assassinated. And my brother was graduating college. Wet get up in the morning to go to the store and we heard that Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated. I remember exactly where we were in all three of those events.

Peter: [00:33:01] Yeah I use that example as it relates to 9/11 because I can tell you exactly where I was, what was happening almost vividly through that whole process of the Stephen Covey event that Franklin university was sponsoring. And I walked out in this restroom there these people hovering around this small portable TV with antennas. What are you watching this? Well it looks like a plane hit the World Trade Center. But didn’t really… you know I was thinking like a little Cessna. And then as I was coming back more and more people start gathering around and people started going into the bar. They had a TV on and I can vividly see that and I can remember walking back into the auditorium and Covey is getting the news of what’s going and the news is starting to travel. And that’s what 17 years ago. And I can still vividly see everything from that day and probably a few days after that.

David: [00:33:58] Well yes. Those are events that triggers certain things on our brain. And that’s why a really well-placed good story when you’re teaching has such a powerful impact. We’re converting like many colleges to teach online now. And what students tell me because I will sometimes run hybrid where they come to class now and then is that man if you come to class — they’ll go on the online like those zoom sessions and say you’re really missing a story. Or will you tell that story about… and it’s different talking to a computer than it is telling a story to a live audience.

Peter: [00:34:31] Right. And if we could do more storytelling to live audiences when we have that opportunity that that level of retention does increase.

David: [00:34:43] Sure and even in accounting. Let’s see if you’re out doing whether it’s accounting auditing or taxation. You start telling stories of some idiotic thing a person did to get in trouble. People hear that.

Peter: [00:34:57] Yeah.

David: [00:34:58] Why would no why would somebody have done that. Why did that treasurer think you could not have to file these reports whatever it might be. You talk about investigations and here’s how to keep yourself out of trouble. I mean a good story is much better than oh let me give you the factual data of how you need to file a such and such form.

Peter: [00:35:17] Well I wrote an ethics course that I’ve delivered this year and the feedback that I’ve gotten from it because I use real life examples. I talk about I talk about Enron, I talk about Wells Fargo and some recent events. And the majority have said something along those lines. I love it that using real world examples than just theory that’s out there because it is part of storytelling. And they they tend to stay awake. And my my my my evaluation scores keep going up.

David: [00:35:51] Correct. And it’s the same thing that I try to do with my teaching a class. I tell students I can’t show you how whatever the concept this doesn’t fit your job, call me out on it because I believe I should do that. I was a theory based superintendent but I converted it all to practical language people can understand.

Peter: [00:36:10] So what type of organizations do you consult with? Who brings you into to study this or get this information?

David: [00:36:19] Mostly I work with schools at the K-12 level and I work with one pharmacy group. I’ve done talks to rotaries and other places. It’s it’s interesting with my background because I was considered a business superintendent for ability to save money and you know keep people’s healthcare from knocking him out of business. But that doesn’t always translate into working with business I’m OK with that. I can help teachers at all levels better understand how to interpret just what students are going through. I teach brain theory too. I’m working with two studies right now at Walsh. One in our doctorate physical therapy program and we have a study going on with the professor who used to have who used to have the highest F rate on campus.

Peter: [00:37:02] Haha.

David: [00:37:02] And he brought me in and I did some coaching of him as students. We applied some of the tools that are that are brain based. And the first time he did it the lowest grade he had was one d. Everybody else was higher than that.

Peter: [00:37:17] Wow.

David: [00:37:18] Which I think also helped him get tenure. And we’re now back in doing another cohort in his class to see you know just get him thinking about it because our preferences often drive us to think other people feel the way we do. But if I can understand where a person is coming from – not their learning preference but how they think about things. Now the need of a student or an audience member to have a tight outline and know exactly when the time’s going to be. That’s important to some people but for somebody who is a visionary they might think you’re putting handcuffs on them. So I need to I need to do both of those things somehow to get to both groups. So I do teach that to people. That’s what I did with the pharmacy group I worked with. And you know how to work with their colleagues because they had two things they had going was hurting them from a business standpoint. 87 percent of the people in the organization have a structural preference. They just wanted to hit deadlines and get it over with and they didn’t have enough conceptual thinkers, and then they were quiet so they never brought something up. The point being, in a business, if they had a deadline of Friday, they liked finishing it on Monday, but then wouldn’t consider new information at all. I said well what’s the critical point? And someone said thursday. So somebody come in with an idea on Wednesday do you look at it? And they said not if we’re done. Which then became a challenge of the organization. So you’re hurting yourselves, you’re losing money, while for them and they were profit-share organizations, like we were losing money. Now we were able to work through that. There comes a time when you listen to somebody who is flexible to change because it can help you. And always being done first is not necessarily the best thing that’s out there. Sometimes being done first hurts you because you don’t consider something new that comes along could help you.

Peter: [00:39:11] That’s very well said. I wholeheartedly agree. And before I forget to ask. How can people… if somebody in my audience wants to contact you, What’s the best way that they should contact you?

David: [00:39:23] I’m ever on the N.S.A. Ohio Web site. My email is pretty easy it’s DocBrobeck at gmail dot com. And I’m always willing to talk to people about how this works and I love it. It’s what my research work is and I’ve been committed to helping whoever it is learn and retain more information for my whole life. This is my 43rd year of teaching and I’ve been speaking professionally for 12 years. It all ties together. I see myself as a teacher who speaks.

Peter: [00:40:01] I used you as an example yesterday about your evaluations and how being a member of NSA and seeing these different things really have helped you in the classroom to a VIP member yesterday questioning would this help me at work and the stuff that they do.

David: [00:40:19] Well yeah there’s… I can’t remember the last name. His first name was Joel. He talked about success comes in cans and he had he was old school. He was showing how you use transparencies an overhead projector. Didn’t use PowerPoint. But he had a structure that he like how he laid out his events. I’ve used that use as a classroom teacher. I’ve used that and every presentation I’ve done, whether it’s an NSA type presentation or I’m speaking to an audience of college professors. I go right down through that thing exactly how he taught it. And when I got hired at Walsh they said that might have been the most structured demo lesson we’ve ever seen. Well it all came off NSA Ohio.

Peter: [00:41:03] Wow. How long ago was that do you remember?

David: [00:41:05] Well we were at the Crowne Plaza.

Peter: [00:41:07] Oh.

David: [00:41:07] In Columbus so it’s been a while.

Peter: [00:41:10] It’s been a while. I was trying to look up his name and see if we can find that information.

David: [00:41:20] He was he was older then because I turned 64 this year. And I just don’t remember – can’t remember his name. Shame on me. I think it’s because I’m getting old.

Peter: [00:41:33] You don’t look 64 my friend. I hope to look as good as you do when I’m 64. I say I tell people I’m the body of an 80 year old in the mind of a 35 year old. So that gives you some idea.

David: [00:41:46] Joe Weldon is his name. I just looked it up. The keynote speaker has his line is success comes in cans.

Peter: [00:41:56] OK cool. I’m glad you did that. Thank you so very much. David thank you again for taking time. I’m fascinated by our conversation which makes me want to continue to learn more and more about how the brain interacts, and ways that we can engage that classroom. I think in today’s day and age, it’s a must that we begin moving in this direction. And I can’t thank you enough my friend.

David: [00:42:21] You’re welcome Peter.

Peter: [00:42:26] I would like to thank David again for spending time on this episode talking about the brain and how we can make learning fun and engaging. Before I close, I would like to take a moment to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. This is not nano-learning – this is self-study learning. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. And please take a moment to ssubscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play so you won’t miss an upcoming episode. Also if you’ve been enjoying this podcast, I would greatly appreciate it if you take a few moments and leave a review on iTunes. Thank you very much for taking the time to do that. Now November is National Diabetes Month and I’ll be donating 20 percent of all paperback and audiobook sales from my web site to the juvenile diabetes research foundation. Each Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life that is purchased from my website is personally signed. The book retails for $14.99 and the shipping is free. To order go to PeterMargaritis.com and click the available now icon. In addition, you can download improvs no joke audio book for 14.99 so you can listen on the go. And remember 20 percent of all sales in the month of November will be donated to juvenile diabetes research foundation. Now I’m in the process of writing my next book with the working tieless financial storytelling and I’m previewing content on my social media. So connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In episode 77, My guest is Colin Blalock, who’s a shareholder with the accounting firm of Jones and Cobb in Atlanta, Georgia. Now our conversation centers around why the audience focuses on your body language, then your words that you are saying, to see if they are concurrent. So remember to use the principles of improvisation to better connect with your colleagues, your peers, and your family.




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