E. Thomas Behr. Ph.D.
42 Old Mill Road
Millington, NJ 07946
How it all started
My teachers didn’t approve.
I was the little boy in Harry Chapin’s “Flowers are Red”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cVpkzZpDBA (If you don’t know it, it’s a wonderful, disturbing song)
My teachers told me: “Unless you learn to be organized and think properly, Tommy, you’ll never amount to anything.”
They were pretty firm about that, and so I believed them. For a while.
When I started teaching high school English after college and was responsible for helping kids understand and be
excited about literature and ideas, I started drawing pictures on the chalkboard. It just seemed like the right thing to do. The kids got it. And loved it.
I wanted to know why. My life-long inquiry has been a journey that began with the poets, novelists and dramatists I loved, and has expanded to include thinkers like Tony Buzan, Howard Gardner, Ned Herrmann, Roger von Oech, Gary Zukav, James Gleick, Meg Wheatley, and most recently John Medina.
Along the way, I got professionally trained in theatrical set and lighting design and had a wonderful second career in theater – 60 performances as an actor, director or designer.
What emerged over time was a synthesis of theater and whole brain thinking into a life practice of helping people visualize and act on possibilities in their lives.
Corporate Consulting and Training
In 1980, I left the world of teaching and embarked on a career in corporate consulting and management training, starting my own company in 1985. A few highlights of my work:
- Systems redesign consulting (with all the visual tools required in that discipline)
- Whole brain thinking workshops based on Ned Herrmann’s Diversity Game and my own proprietary whole brain problem solving process.
- Blended learning systems design for clients facing the need for organizational change
This is a graphic representation of a complex learning system in leadership development created for one client that synthesizes assessment and evaluation, formal and self-directed learning, and web-based sustainability tools (which I also developed). It’s an animated PowerPoint slide so that the build and synergy among different elements can be presented visually.
As a workshop and conference facilitator, I rely deeply on the combination of self-managed group discovery and visual thinking models, such as Harrison Owen’s Open Space and Marv Wesibord and Sandra Janoff’s Future Search.
I’ve also worked for decades as a pro bono facilitator for large group community and non-profit workshops using the same methodologies.
I’m a published author. For how I incorporate graphics in my latest book, see:
Presentation Skills Training
My greatest love, however, has been helping people — at this point well over 8,000 participants in 12 different countries — learn to master the fear of public speaking and develop their own innate capacity to become powerful, compelling presenters.
Putting Power Back in PowerPoint
- Use animation to let participants take in and emotionally/subconsciously react to an image that triggers their own memories and feelings.
- Then allow the text to appear, one thought at a time to frame their individual
- Encourage participants to share what the complex concept means to them.
- Then introduce skills and techniques to help participants accomplish goals they care about.
- Use animated thought balloons to create the cognitive dissonance that frees participants to question habitual (and irrational) assumptions.
- Use laughter to open people’s minds to new ideas (and flood their brains with endorphins.
Pushing the Envelope
I use PowerPoint now to create the equivalent of TV commercials or mini-movies.( I used to do a lot of video training, but clients don’t want to spend the money for quality video now). You can get the same dramatic effect with PowerPoint animation.
This is from an animated slide show on consultative selling in which participants experience the difference between what salespeople and customers say to each other and what they are actually thinking and feeling.
We see the conversation first, as if were a video, then the thought balloons pop up over the characters’ heads.
This is a 40-slide PowerPoint deck that looks and acts just like a non-linear website.
Participants view it in slide show mode, so the hyperlinks are active.
All the buttons on the top menu bar are active, so participants can jump from one section to the next, review material as they need to, access embedded tools and resources.
I’ve learned you don’t need to “teach” with this tool. Participants today are so used to websites that they instinctively know how to explore and discover. They create the questions that they then solve collaboratively using the resources on the site.