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PowerPoint Prozac

How many of us have sat through “bum achingly” boring presentation after presentation, delivered by presenters who abuse their audience by reading every word from their slides? It ought to be a criminal offence to abuse an audience in this way.


In over 20 years of coaching presenters, I have had the opportunity to evaluate the different presentation approaches and the findings are shocking.  On average, reading bullet-pointed slides yield a 0-5% recall of information after just an hour!

When you consider the average deck has over 25 slides, with each slide having a heading and a series of 5 – 9 bullets, do the math; the worst-case scenario this is a deck with over 225 data points, which is serious information overload that the audience simply will not remember. Most presentations are actually given in this ineffectual, way. It is possible to use PowerPoint to communicate effectively, but only by using the tool in a more well-thought-out way.

Many presenters use bullet points as cue cards – to remind them what to say. If bullet points make sense without a presenter, why waste time energy and money attending and listening to the presentation? Your audience could simply be sent the slides, because they can read 7 times faster than you can speak.

In fact, it is counterproductive and research by Sweller and others state;

“It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented.”

– Professor John Sweller UNSW

Most of us know intuitively (or through experience) that presenting to an audience with text-filled slides does not work, but others — your boss perhaps — may need more convincing. This is where the research and evidence from specialists in psychology, education, and other disciplines can be a great help. Research shows that visuals, like animation, plus concise, simultaneous narration is better than just narration alone.

When it comes to the issue of projected text on a screen and narration, our conclusion is:

Slides should not make sense on their own, if the slides can be completely understood without your narration, then it begs the question; why are you there?

Effective presentations are about clear communication. To present well, we need to understand when to use visual aids and their purpose, what the audience are looking for, and how to make our messages more effective and memorable.

PowerPoint Presentations can work very effectively, we have the research to prove it.  When the slides and the presenter work together, it is what we call “dual encoding” – seamlessly delivering the right images and information, at the right time, to captivate the audience.

Salesworxs programmes benefit from over 20 years of research and many thousands of presentations, if you would like to know more please contact us.

PowerPoint Prozac
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