2023 Keynotes Have a Common Theme: The Magic of the Brain

Autistic animal expert, neuroscientist, and magician...just your garden-variety lineup of keynote speakers

Autistic animal expert, neuroscientist, and magician…just your garden-variety lineup…

Temple Grandin to Headline the Summit

Renowned autism activist and animal behavior expert revolutionized livestock handling with her visual thinking

Among the many firsts to be observed at the 21st running of the Presentation Summit this fall, the most prominent will be the welcoming of Dr. Temple Grandin, a pioneering figure in both the fields of animal behavior and autism advocacy. She will kick off the conference at a special Sunday evening dinner reception (first No. 2).

To say that Dr. Grandin practices what she preaches would be quite the understatement. She is a world-renowned expert on animal behavior and animal welfare, having gleaned much of her insight by literally mimicking animal behavior and practically living with livestock. Additionally, she is a prominent advocate for individuals with autism, having been diagnosed with the condition herself as a child. Growing up in the 1950s, autism was not sufficiently understood and the psychiatrists of that era recommended to her parents that she be institutionalized indefinitely.

Instead, she was mainstreamed, allowed to cultivate her unique abilities to see the world visually, and has delivered unprecedented insight at the intersection of animal behavior, autism, and society.

She is the first Summit speaker to cut her teeth on the TED stage (first No. 3) as well as the first to have a major motion picture made about her life (first No. 4), starring Emmy-award and Golden Globe-winning actress Claire Danes.

“We are beyond honored to have Dr. Grandin join us,” says conference host and organizer Rick Altman. “We are all about good storytelling at the Summit, and not only is her story incredibly inspirational, it delivers a wonderful message to us about how storytelling can take many forms. Brilliance can come in the form of articulate wordsmithing, and it can come in the form of visualization.”

Whether because of or in spite of her autism (most believe the former), few individuals on this planet have Temple’s ability to see a problem, envision a system to address it, and then build it. “She makes the world better with her mind’s eye,” says Altman. “I can’t wait for her to share this extraordinary perspective with our audience this year.”

“I enjoy speaking to a lot of different industries,” says Grandin, who earned a PhD and then a professorship at Colorado State University. “Going across disciplines is how you really get an idea of how people see things differently. You get outside the box by actually going outside the box. So speaking to a group of presentation professionals will be very educational for me. And I understand that you might be able to make my PowerPoint slides better!”

Dr. Grandin will speak at both the in-person and virtual experiences that make up this year’s conference: Oct 15-18 in Monterey and then Nov 5-8 virtually.


Carmen Simon Returns to the Presentation Summit

Popular neuroscientist offers her unique insights into how we perform and how we perform at our best

“The thing about my good friend Carmen?” says Presentation Summit host and organizer Rick Altman. “She is the embodiment of her best-selling book: she is truly impossible to ignore.”

So says just about every patron who attended the Summit pre-Covid and missed her during the Covid years. The conference is delighted to announce her triumphant return this year as the Monday morning keynote presenter, Oct 16, live from Monterey CA.

While Dr. Simon might have seen her travel curtailed during Covid, her research was as prolific as ever. In fact, the pandemic fueled one of her studies. “The pandemic compelled me to wonder about the different ways in which we present,” she says, “and what the impact is of being face to face, as opposed to virtual, or over the phone, or hybrid. The results might surprise you — they did me!”

Her findings form the basis for her keynote address at the Summit: “Face to Face or Virtual? Cognitive Conclusions Curated from Covid.” In this hour, she will address many questions whose answers can be found in brain science. What if you want to have the most impact? What if you want to build relationships? What if you have more than one presenter? There is data to suggest that certain modes of presentation are more effective than others, based on your goals. Simon promises to shine a very bright light on these and other questions.

“I have missed this conference so much!” she muses. “All of the friends I have made over the years, I’m so looking forward to reconnecting with them and sharing some practical science-based guidelines. Practical and surprising!”


Is there Magic in Presentation? Nolan Haims Says Yes

Presentationist and magician blends the two at this year’s Summit

The Presentation Summit prides itself on making magic on an annual basis, but not like this. Nolan Haims intends to show how a good presentation is literally like magic.

And he should know: Haims spent his formative teen years as a professional magician, performing, touring, and even winning competitions. Working as a magician is how Nolan discovered storytelling to be a key element of good presentation. In this unique and personal keynote address, he will take you inside the magician’s world to show how we can improve our presentation chops with the help of the fundamental principles of sleight of hand.

“Magic was my first real passion,” Haims recalls, “but it was also how I learned to speak to audiences, to create narratives, to run a business, and to cultivate lasting friendships. I have long thought about how this seminal part of my life has influenced my work.”

Haims promises to take us all backstage and open his notebook. What exactly is misdirection and how you can use it in slide design? How can a magician’s secret moves help you manage wordy slides?

“Magicians aren’t supposed to reveal their secrets,” he lets on, “but maybe I’ll make an exception or two.”


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