In my more than thirty years as a professional speaker, I have addressed audiences from Houston to Hong Kong and Budapest to Berlin and been a key-note presenter at conferences, seminars and workshops for clients including Astra, British Airways, British Telecom, Brother, Coca-Cola, Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, ESOMAR, Glaxo, Google IBM, John Lewis, Paribas, Redrow, SAP, and Toyota. I have also spoken at such major international conferences and congresses as the UAE’s Festival of Thinkers in 2011.

Because my presentations are based on original research, conducted by my own university-based laboratory, audiences gain insights into the most recent discoveries in neuroscience, psychology and technology.

While each presentation is bespoke, in order to precisely match the conference’s overall goals and the expectations of those attending, one feature always remains the same. My strong belief that if a speaker’s message is to be attended to, understood and acted upon the audience must be both informed and entertained. That explanations must be rooted in everyday examples and practical demonstrations. Only in this way can any audience, whether university students or senior executives of major corporations, acquire the knowledge they need to enrich and inform their careers.

If you are organising a conference, seminar or workshop and would like a free copy of my book, please e-mail [email protected] or telephone +44 (0) 1323 422447.

I make no charge for an initial consultation if you would like to talk through some ideas for your next conference, a seminar or an in-house workshop.


What our clients say about us

“I have watched twice now the video of your session at Reading last Wednesday afternoon and must tell you that you improve, if that were possible, with the passing of time. I saw your thread more and more clearly as I watched your session again. In summary, you delivered exactly the powerful facilitating message of opportunity that I was looking for." Lloyds TSB

“Your profound mastery of the management subjects, and your excellent presentation contributed significantly to the success of the session. Our multinational audience responded extremely well to your lively guidance through the event." IBM

“It is difficult to find enough superlatives to describe the excellent presentations given by you. As a meeting/convention planner, I found it a genuine pleasure to work with you. David I would highly recommend you for any conference or meeting anywhere and at any time” Prudential

“You must have many congratulatory letters on file following your presentation to sales forces up and down the country. We thought we would be different by simply saying: 1. Brilliant 2. Thank You 3. Here's to the next time” Molnycke

“Thank you very much for your superb speech at our Executive Conference. Every member of the audience I’ve talked with since has praised the relevance of the content and the humour in delivery. Up to that point the Conference had gone well – your contribution helped make it truly memorable." AT&T ISTEL Ltd

Presentation topics

Please click a title below to read more information.

Shopper fitted with neurocap to read brain messages and glasses to track eye movements

Over the last ten years, more has been discovered about the human brain than over the previous hundred thousand. These advances in neuroscience, psychology and computer technology enable advertisers, marketers and retailers to affect every step of a consumer’s journey along the path-to-purchase. To subtly, and ethically, influence each stage from the moment a want or need is triggered, through out-of-store or off-line pre-consideration, to in-store or on-line decision making. A journey which ends only once the transaction is completed and the sale made or lost. In this presentation, based on research for my latest book – The Brain Sell: When Science Meets Shopping (Nicholas Brealey Publishing) I explain:

  • What neuroscience has revealed about the hidden influences which shape the way people shop.
  • The six mental and emotional stages every consumer goes through before a sale is made.
  • How Needs, Wants and Want-Needs arise, how they differ from one another and the value of transforming Needs and Wants into significantly more powerful and compelling Want-Needs.
  • Why attentional blindness, in-store and on-line, can make or break a sale.
  • Captology and the persuasive potential of computers as sales agents.
  • Personalised bill-boards, talking windows and mobile phones marketing – a glimpse into the near future.
  • Three key sales lessons neuromarketing studies teach and everyone in selling must learn.

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Cevahir shopping mall, Istanbul, Turkey

Over 30 years ago Philip Kotler, Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University in the US, coined the term “atmospherics” to describe the way retail spaces can be designed in order to: ‘Produce specific emotional effects in the buyer that enhance his purchase probability.”

Today, retailers the world over understand the critical importance of providing shoppers not just with products but experiences. Experiences so enjoyable and entertaining they are tempted back again and again.

But what exactly does it take to create such loyalty-enhancing shopping experiences?

My laboratory has conducted extensive studies of retail ‘atmospherics’ around the world. Using equipment to monitor responses in brain and body, often combined with eye-tracking, we have put every moment of a shopper’s time with a store or mall under the neuroscience microscope. In this presentation I explain:

  • The vital differences between ‘going shopping’ and ‘doing the shopping’ and why each requires a different type of customer experience.
  • The crucial role of ‘mental fluency’ in enhancing the shoppers’ experience.
  • How aroma, temperature, humidity, colour, music and lighting influence - by enhancing or detracting - from shoppers readiness to spend.
  • The importance of ‘experience cues’, what they are, how they work and how to maximise their effectiveness.
  • Why empathic Humanics and effective Mechanics result in increased sales and enhanced consumer loyalty.  What these two key elements are and how they exert such a profound influence over the customer’s experience. 

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Have you ever wondered why your customers buy on impulse?

Sought to understand what lies behind their split second decisions to take one product home while leaving another on the shelf? Or considered the extent to which such purchasing choices can be influenced by external cues and, if so, exactly what these cues might be?

Whether your products are sold on the high street or on-line understanding the psychology behind those impulsive purchases makes a significant difference to your bottom line. In this presentation I explain the science behind the impulse buy.

Research conducted in my laboratory and studies under real life conditions have provided me with unparalleled insights into the minds of impulse-driven shopping. Knowledge which can make your own marketing and sales strategies more tempting, exciting and effective. Helped me understand the vital role played by unconscious thoughts and emotions in determining purchasing choices. In this presentation, I explain:

  • Why people buy impulsively and what influences them to do so.
  • Impulse shopping and the Zombie brain.
  • What a man’s finger length reveals about his tendency to impulse buy.
  • Six ways to increase impulse buys.
  • Why impulse buying a bargain creates a buzz in the shopper’s brain.

While you may not always be conscious of your customers’ impulses for the sake of your business you cannot afford to ignore them.

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This image, taken from my book The Brain Sell contains a hidden message. Even if unable to see it, that message could be exerting an influence over you

In 1957 an American market researcher named James McDonald Vicary claimed to have increased cinema sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn by exposing cinema audiences to subliminal messages. A few years later he admitted it had all been a PR stunt designed to drum up business for his ailing marketing company. For many decades afterwards the whole story was dismissed as a fantasy. Today, however, there is respectable scientific evidence to show that we are, indeed, powerfully influenced by messages of which we are unaware. In this presentation I describe: 

  • The strange early history of subliminal advertising. Which predates Vicary’s so called ‘experiments’ by many decades.
  • How and why consumers are persuaded by unconsciously perceived sales messages.
  • Differences between subliminal and supraliminal messages – why each can act as powerful persuaders.
  • ‘Embeds’ – what they are and how they work.
  • How subconscious ‘priming’ can trigger the ‘buy button’ in the brain.
  • Subliminal techniques for measuring emotional responses to sales messages and brands.
  • Why subliminal sexual messages exert such a powerful effect on male consumers.

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Extended Mind - Embodied Brain

Where does the brain end? Many would say behind the eyes and between the ears. Recent studies have demonstrated, however, that it extends far beyond the confines of the skull. That in order to understand the way consumers think, feel and behave one must also understand the powerful influences exerted not just by the body it controls but also its immediate physical environment, the society and the culture in inhabits. This increasingly accepted theory matters to commercial organisations for three key reasons.

Only by taking a holistic approach to mental and emotional function can thoughts, feelings and actions be properly understood and influenced. 

Second, appreciating the role of the external world in helping regulate a consumer’s internal one, enable changes – often quite minor changes – to be made to the environment that will enhance responses to commercial messages.

Finally, gaining insights into the complex feedback and feed forward mechanisms linking brain and body, offers a window on the shopper’s private inner world. In this presentation I explain:

  • The intimate connection between brain, body and environment.
  • Why we cannot detach ourselves from our perceptions and their biases.
  • How, by altering the environment, it becomes possible to change the way consumers think.
  • The influence of our second brain – and second body.
  • How physical movements determine mental attitudes.
  • Why head nods and postural changes exert a profound influence on sales outcomes.

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Shopper fitted with neurocap to read brain messages and glasses to track eye movements

To any company thinking of engaging with neuromarketing, the science and technology involved often seem deeply complex and totally confusing.

With different neuromarketers often advocating different approaches and each claiming theirs is superior to all the others, what is the non-specialist to make of it all?

How can he, or she, find their way through the seemingly opaque language and competing technologies?

Should they go with fMRI or EEG? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Is the underlying science reliable or mainly speculation?

Are the claims largely smoke and mirrors from a professional marketer or founded in solid, academically respectable and main stream neuroscience?

 In this presentation, I offer a neuromarketing primer to companies interested in testing out this new approach to market research. I describe:

  • Neuromarketing’s brief history. How, some thirty years ago, I helped start what has become a billion dollar global industry, almost by accident
  • The technologies involved - from QEEG and fMRI to eye-tracking, facial recognition, and biophysical recordings to Implicit Association Testing.
  • The strengths and weakness of each approach and what measuring brain function can and cannot reveal about advertising effectiveness and purchasing intentions.
  • How eye-tracking combined with EEG are now being used to inform everything from billboard and package design to web-sites and shelf displays.
  • How unconscious responses can be measured over the internet with significantly greater sample sizes and at far less cost.
  • Six questions every neuromarketing company should answer before they are engaged.

Before your company spends thousand on a neuromarketing study why not invest one hour of your decision maker’s time to discover the truth about an industry which sometimes seems to offer more hype than help.

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The Needs & Wants Matrix

The dictionary defines “sell” as “giving up or handing over to another person for money.”

While perfectly accurate, this does not take us much further in understanding either the psychology or the neuroscience behind the sales process.

A more useful way of understanding selling is as “problem solving.” According to this operational definition, a manufacturer or service provider offers customers neither products nor services, but solutions to problems arising from needs or want-needs.

Problems vary in terms of urgency and complexity. Some may be so pressing that finding a solution is uppermost in the consumer’s mind at the precise moment a solution is offered. Others can be solved over a period of days, weeks, or even years.

Problems may have a single possible solution or many. The former are termed convergent and the latter divergent. No matter how difficult or complex a problem, however, it is comprised of just three elements - the Givens, the Operations, and the Goals.

In this presentation I describe this radically new way of looking at selling which applies no matter what the product or service being offered. I explain how:

  • Neuromarketing can help identify which aspects of the Givens, the Operations and the Goals are most likely to appeal and which to appal.
  • By drilling down into the consumer’s subconscious through the use of brain imaging, it becomes possible to identify the small and subtle changes that will help ensure a sale.
  • The path from the initial interest in buying to the point of purchase can be subtly but powerfully guided by ensuring consumer ‘fluency.’
  • Needs, Wants and Want-Needs differ from one another and how needs can be transformed into Wants and Wants into Want-Needs, the most powerful motivation to purchase of them all.

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I use a model of the human brain while explaining how we respond to the stress of change

Stress can be a curse. Something that harms health and undermines performance. But it can also prove the driving force for success, enhancing motivation, increasing productivity and opening the way to greater innovation and successful change. Audiences will learn practical techniques for:

  • Identifying and managing stress in themselves and others.
  • Meeting the challenge of change.
  • Using Mindfulness to enhance awareness and increase productivity.
  • Making effective decisions and solving complex problems against deadlines.
  • Relaxing quickly, easily and effectively.
  • Safeguarding their health and well-being during periods of high stress.

My early research was into practical ways of managing stress. I have developed unique techniques based on breath control and taught the subject at senior management level across a wide range of Fortune 500 companies. For some years I worked with IBM on their Personal Development Programme. I have published a number of books on stress including: Ten Minute Time and Stress Management, Information Overload - Practical Strategies for Surviving in Today's Workplace, and Stress for Success.

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