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PowerPoint, Prezi, Public speaking, Winning New Business

Presentation Tips – The science of being memorable

Came across a wonderful blog by Eyeful Presentations BLOG which I’m going to summarise (steal) below.

They found a truly excellent talk by Dr Chris Atherton, HERE, a psychologist which looks at the science behind presentations. She has done a lot of work on how effective different communication techniques are.

The talk is 30 minutes, and if you have time I recommend you watch it – it is very, very well delivered by someone who is extremely practiced in delivering information to audiences.

If your life is crowded and you are suffering from cognitive overload, then here in summary is what she says. It will be useful to everyone. Trust me.

1. When you put lots of text on slides the audience read it fast. There is then a mismatch between what they are seeing and what you are saying. This is bad.

2. PowerPoint is probably not evil.

3. Bullets don’t kill people – bullet points do. This is a joke.

4. What is memorable about what you say is rarely what you hope it is. Weird bits stand out.

5. Chunking is useful. Chunking’s best example is a Mnemonic. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is one thing you have to remember to recall E G B D F – the notes on the musical staff. You can chunk by giving your talk structure, “There are three reasons…”

6. The more that new information fits into an existing Schema (Schema are the sifted ideas you already have in your head) the easier it is to understand and retain. So make sure you have a context for new information.

7. Cognitive Load Theory says your Working Memory (short-term memory) is limited and is vital in the process of adding new information to existing schema. So the aim is to reduce the amount of working memory your communication takes up, leaving space for processing.

8. When tested, putting less text on slides – Sparse Text – was better for recall than when there was lots of text.

9. The “rules” of presentation – time per slide, maximum of 33 words per slide, the 10, 20, 30 rule and all that malarkey, are nearly always wrong. They are wrong because the context, the audience, the message, the purpose, will almost certainly not fit the rule.

10. The only rule that matters is the rule of attention. The purpose of a speaker is to hold the audience’s attention – nothing else matters.

So, if you change one thing, eliminate lots of text from your slides. It will make what you are saying clearer. It will make it more memorable. It will make you more effective.

What do you think? Still keeping the 12 bullet points?

Let me know….

EDIT –  saw THIS this morning. Same messages, different medium. Nice.


About gristpresent

Presentation, Q&A and Engagement Coach. We help you win more business. Also BAFTA-winning film maker. See our new site www.grist.co.uk


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