The sad fact about powerpoint is this we only retain between 6-10% of the information!
Why? One of the biggest problems is sensory overload, as we have about 70 000 thoughts a day! Get your head around this, there are 1 000 000 Google searches every second. Narrowing your output will help the listener focus. Sensory overload of the pre-frontal cortex prevents absorption of details.
Asking your audience to read text on a slides requires a lot of processing effort. Text is a symbol system and must be decoded to have meaning, whilst the speaker is speaking – big problem. Images on the other hand require little processing because they fit with the message. Showing meaningful, content-based visuals lessens cognitive exertion and improves overall experience. Very important, when you consider that 70% of us process information visually! However, throwing random pictures onto slides to “pretty them up” is not a good idea either – it can in fact have a negative impact on learning. They have to relate and they must be meaningful. Shaping emotions, simplifying or clarifying complexity is essential. The phrase “Here let me show you what I mean” is one of the most potent set of words you can use as a speaker. Seeing is believing. Become a good story teller. Storytellers paint pictures in people’s minds – amplify this with meaningful visuals.
And don’t forget the impact of stress on our brains! When we are stressed, we process information as a 12 year old. All listeners experience attention fatigue every 9-11 minutes, so build in activities, practical applications, quizzes etc. Re-capture their attention. Get them involved and talking. Use multi-visual impactors. Our brains are designed to grow when we learn something and this produces dopamine, the pleasure hormone.
Why is the start so important? Because in those critical few seconds we will decide whether we are going to be bored, uncomfortable and concerned that this presentation/meeting will not enable us. Never forget when we anticipate or experience change it creates pain for the brain. Change exhausts the brain. It takes 41 days to integrate new habits into the basal ganglia. Change takes time and is habitual.
Your listener is capable of making a negative decision instantly, the moment you start speaking. This is assisted by our reptilian brain – the part of the brain responsible for keeping us safe and enabling our breathing and mobility. – meaning your listener will not absorb your information, if they are afraid, bored/disinterested. If, however, your listener feels safe, enabled, interested – chances are they will retain more information. But even then don’t get your hopes up! New research is showing that we only retain 6/10% of the information.
Research is also showing that only 10% of our best thinking occurs at work tested on more than 6 000 workers recently. Some of the best ideas are generated outside the formal working environment, when we are in motion – such as walking, showering etc. This is a good time to form the conceptual part of your presentation – don’t do it sitting at your desk!
Men and women’s brains are stimulated differently. Women respond more positively to control and confidence, whereas the male brain responds more positively to change.
Quick points to remember:
- Create an impactful start that doesn’t generate fear and engage the reptilian brain
- Use meaningful and impactful visual support to get your message across
- Keep text to an absolute minimum
- Use emotion/storytelling/something practical every 7-10 minutes to hold their attention
- Remember most people will retain 6-10% of the information
- Stress prevents your audience from processing information effectively