Presentation Style – It’s time to change yours

audience sleeping
It’s time to change your presentation style

To improve your presentation style toss your PowerPoint slide decks with headings followed by half a dozen bullet points into the bin. They belong in the age of steam when life proceeded at a more measured pace.

How to improve your presentation style

Look at how TED speakers present their ideas. Simple charts, photographs and graphics dominate. (Watch the videos on TED.com)

Each bullet point becomes its own slide and any that aren’t strictly necessary or alter the flow of ideas are discarded.

There’s a good scientific reason for this. As humans we vastly overrate our ability to concentrate equally well on reading text on a screen and listening to the speaker.

We simply can’t retain all the information we have to process every day, so anything that makes presentations simpler and easier to absorb makes traditional methods obsolete.

Think of other media where words and pictures work together to quickly convey information: postcards (yes, they’re making a comeback), memes, packaging, signage and billboards are obvious examples.

Even before the digital age,  good advertising designers aimed at using no more than a single picture and 3-6 words on a billboard to get the sales message across.

Seen from a moving car, a billboard has your attention for no more than two or three seconds. Try the same test on your slides. If you can’t communicate at billboard speed, your audience’s attention will wander and you’ll lose them.

University of Washington biologist John Medina has done extensive research into how the brain processes information. In his book Brain Rules he says, “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information and, three days later, you’ll remember 10 per cent of it. With a picture, you’ll remember 65 per cent.”

So for your next presentation, use crisp, clean slides with plenty of white space, keep your audio and video segments brief and on the point, and cut the waffle.

Your audience will love you for it.

  • An excellent first step is to find a selection of presentation slide templates
  • Search for slidemodel.com or presentationpoint.com and just by subscribing to their newsletters, you can access plenty of free PowerPoint templates.
  • Watch some TED talks.
  • Look for compelling images to use in your presentations. You can get free images from sites like Pixabay or try persuade your company to subscribe to a photo library like Adobe or Shutterstock.
  • There are many different websites for creating design elements for your presentation like custom road signs, posters, etc

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