Look at these two slides:
Which one helped you understand the concept of Death by Powerpoint better and more quickly?
I'm guessing the one on the right. Yes? Did you know that 30% of our cortex is devoted to visual processing, so understanding concepts from pictures is much easier for the brain?
How many times have you been in a presentation, pinching yourself to stay awake? Don't be that presenter. Let’s have a look at some facts about your brain that can help you make more interesting and more memorable presentations.
2. Reading a list of bullet points activates the language processing parts of your brain. Once you’ve finished, that’s it. Now imagine that instead of a list of bullet points, your eyes are looking at a picture and your ears are listening to a story. Research has shown that storytelling activates many other parts of the brain, keeping the audience much more involved.
3. Make your presentation more memorable by helping the audience create connections in their brains: Making connections between different areas of the brain is vital for laying down strong memories. When you hear a story, your brain is searching for its own similar experiences, creating connections with the content you’re hearing and memories that are already in your brain.
4. If I read you a list of words, do you know which ones you would remember? The answer is most likely to include the first, the last, any words that were repeated, and any surprising word. Primacy, recency, repetition and novelty are key in remembering. That’s why it’s important to identify your message, and repeat it, especially at the beginning and end. You also need to think about your audience: what would be novel for them?
5. It’s not entirely clear how many slots are in your working memory, but it’s probably around 4. Research has shown that people remember on average 4 slides from a 20-slide presentation. Changing the format of the slides every 4th slide can help people remember more easily.
6. Look at these two slide decks: which one do you think people would remember more of?
Did you choose the one on the right?
In fact they are almost the same, there is no significant difference between how much information people remembered from each presentation. Even though the slide deck on the right looks more interesting and probably took a very long time to create, both slide decks contain too much information and the slides are too similar to each other.
7. So what's the main factor in making a memorable and impactful presentation? The answer is you, the presenter.
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...