Psychology and presentations. Yes, they can coexist. So, what is psychology teaching us about presentations and how can you make your talks better? Let’s see!
1. Build a structure into your content — Matt Abrahams from Stamford Graduate School of Business told us — structured presentations are 40% easier to retain than presentations that do not follow any structure. So how do you achieve that? Just answer the following three questions: What? So what? Now what?
2. Apply the Rule of Three Principle — Three turns out to be a magical number. Maybe it’s not coincidental that most abbreviations that we use in the business world today consist of three letters — CRM, VPN, ERP, etc. And what about phone numbers? 911? Hm… What does that mean for our presentations? It means that whenever you are presenting, you may want to have not more than 3 arguments. Also, when you are presenting the benefits, for example of a product, instead of listing 8 of them, list three of them. On average, people tend to remember not more than three ideas for something, so help them remember them all and don’t overwhelm them with a lot of information. Oh, and did we tell you about the parts of each and every story and respectively presentation — Beginning, Middle and End?
3. Every 10 minutes, change — According to one of the most renowned neuroscientists in the world — John Medina, people tend to lose focus after ten minutes. Then what happens if you have a presentation that’s longer than that? Well, it turns out, that you must be doing something different. Changes are needed. Adding a contrast to your presentations so that your audience gives you another 10 minutes of listening. Adding humor, playing with your voice, doing something unexpected, changing the medium (switching from slides to a video), all of those could work but you need to have planned them
4. Present with Visuals — In Universal Principles of Design, the authors remind us about the so-called “Picture superiority effect”. What the research is all about is the fact that we as humans are visual creatures and because of that, we can recall information way easily and way better if we have seen a picture related to it. Instead of just talking and using your voice, use pictures on your slides that support what you are saying and help your audience remember your message way better.
5. Take time on the Headline — Meaningful headlines will help you deliver your slide message more efficiently. You can use either a single word, a short phrase or even a whole sentence. Actually, we even encourage you to use full-length sentences, since they will help you increase your slide retention more than if you use a single word. Finally, if you include a cool graphic that supports your headline, you are certainly going to make an impression.
6. Don’t read the slides — Slides are there to compliment you. If you are using them to read from them, you are only using the “audio channel” to communicate with your audience. However, if you add utilizing slides as something that complements your speech, then you are attacking both the audio and the visual “channels” of the people in front of you thus putting yourself and your message in a good position to be retained in the so-called long-term memory. Yes, research confirms that one too.
7. Share a story — there is almost no way you haven’t heard that storytelling is the way to go in presentations. One of the researches that confirms this statement is by Paul Zak. He played a video telling a story. However, before he played it, he took blood tests from his subjects. What’s more, he took blood tests after they saw the video too. The results were fascinating! It turns out that stories release two chemicals in people’s bodies — oxytocin and cortisol. The first — responsible for care, connection, empathy. And the latter — the chemical responsible for increased focus and attention or put in other words — the reason why people cannot help themselves but listen. So, do you want to “create” that in your audience? We bet you do! Next time when you are planning your presentation, brainstorm the stories that you think you can tell and when you find them, present them!
7 Psychology-Proven Principles for better presentations. Learned something new? Let us know in the comments. Even better, tell us how you are going to utilize them in your upcoming presentation!