Effective Presentations Part 3: The Brainy Side of Things

The goal of a presentation is to COMMUNICATE with your audience.  Today, we’ll cover what the brain has to do with creating effective presentations.

Brain Rules, a book by John Medina, shares 12 principles to guide you in school and life.
Let’s discuss a few of these principles that relate to presentations.

People don’t pay attention to boring things.
To keep your audience focused on the meat of your presentation, make sure to include aspects that are rich in emotion.

Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
Since we all have our own prior experiences, we perceive events differently.  But we learn best by stimulating multiple senses at once.

Vision trumps all other senses.
Vision takes up half of our brain’s resources.  We learn (and remember) through pictures the best.

Taking these principles into consideration, it makes sense that our PowerPoint presentations should be engaging and visual.

(Side note:  Check out this fun and informative website called Mind Lab.  You’ll find interesting interactives related to visual illusions and the brain.)

Other things to consider…

Try not to put too much information into a single presentation.  (Guilty! I’m famous for trying to make sure everyone walks away with some good information, therefore I pack my presentations with way more content than I should…)

Our mind can only remember 3-4 chunks of information from a presentation.  (When we all remember different points from a presentation, it sure does make it easier to perceive different messages.)

We read faster than we talk.  So, if you are reciting from a text-heavy slide, your audience is reading ahead and likely to miss the point.

Let’s recap:

Information shared in a presentation should be relevant, include visuals, and include the role of emotion.

In my next post, we’ll compare and contrast some FAIL and WIN PowerPoint slides to begin distinguishing between effective and ineffective presentations.


Effective Presentations Series:
Introduction and Part 1: Fail.
Part 2: The Point

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Medina, John. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, WA: Pear, 2009. Print.
Thompson, Duren and McNutt, Bill. Title of item “Powerful & Effective Presentations: How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint”.  [Online] Available www.cls.utk.edu/pdf/Handout%20Effective%20Presentations.pdf, December 7, 2010.

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