We’ve all been there before. You sat through a presentation and would much rather take a bullet than another bullet point slide. Right? It now turns out it’s not your fault. Our brains are hardwired to reject bullet points. There are 3 scientific reasons why, and after reading this, you will know exactly how to make your presentation rock.
Problem number 1: The redundancy effect. Our brain isn’t able to process the same information when you see and hear the same thing at the same time. It’s too much information at once. So when you show your audience a slide filled with text and you talk the audience through it at the same time, people will ‘read’ your slide before they turn their attention to you. Because people read faster than they hear, your words get lost.
Solution: Use as little words as possible on a slide. Try to put only 1 key message on the slide and support it with preferably one visual (picture, graph). That way, the audience can ‘read’ the slide in a few seconds, and then focus back on you.
Problem number 2: The picture superiority effect. Researchers have found that ideas are more likely to be remembered if they are presented as visuals instead of words. After 3 days you’ll only remember about 10% what people say in words. Compare that to 65% if they’d shown you a visual! That’s 6.5 times more memory with a visual!
Solution: Use visuals in your next presentation. But if you use a picture, blow it up over the screen and use it big! And the more visuals you use in a slide, the less impact it will have. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, doing a presentation with visuals is priceless!
Problem number 3: Working memory limits. Recent studies show that people only have a working memory capacity of 3 or 4 chunks of information at a time. Each and every bullet you show is an information chunk…
Solution: Get rid of bullet points! Or stick to the 1/3/6 rule: one slide, 3 bullet points, maximum of 6 words per bullet point. But the solution is also to think about what content you’re trying to convey in your presentation. Do you really need to share all your information? And do you need a slide for every chunk of information? Decide on what is nice to have and what is need to have and use the delete button on your computer. Your audience will be thankful.
Let’s rid the world of Death by PowerPoint!
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