The road to an event is littered with good intentions and many casualties of the notorious “Death By PowerPoint”. Unless information is delivered in a new, compelling way at regular intervals, the audience will tune out during a presentation. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s the limitations of the working memory that makes the mind wander ever 5-7 minutes.
Here are three ways to make a presentation engaging and memorable so that the content is remembered and the audience leaves energized instead of shell-shocked (slide-shocked?).
Emotions engage us like nothing else, and having an emotional experience with the content is a powerful formula for content retention. Adding emotion doesn’t necessarily mean jumping up and down. There are subtle and effective ways to add emotion in a presentation:
- Use stories to emphasize key points. Stories engage the audience at an emotional level and offer a welcomed break from dry facts.
- Vary the presentation format every 5-7 minutes – use relevant video (powerful movie clips, memorable sports clips, etc.), group discussion, and humor to re-engage your audience.
- Intersperse learning games in between and during the presentations to serve as a mental “pallete cleanser” while reinforcing key content. Place the audience into teams and utilize challenges to stoke their competitive spirit and keep them focused and engaged.
Make it Relevant
This is no big secret; people want to know what’s in it for them. If a topic isn’t relevant, the brain doesn’t retain it. An audience needs to see a clear connection between a speaker’s message and their own personal objectives. Without that connection, content retention is unlikely.
- Start the event by clearly outlining the event’s outcomes and connecting them to how they’re relevant to the audience.
- Have the audience set their own objectives for the event.
- Preframe every presentation with the “What’s in it for you?” message.
Restructure the Presentation
Remember Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch? As the middle child of her TV family, she felt ignored. Most of the attention fell to her younger and older sisters. How does this relate to your event?
Studies have shown that people generally only remember the opening and closing parts of any given presentation. It’s called the primacy-recency effect. If you think about most presentations—the important information is generally put in the middle (where it is henceforth forgotten).
- Use the opening to lay out the key points you want the audience to remember and reinforce them during the middle part of the presentation.
- Summarize key take-aways at the close of a presentation.
- Reinforce key points by using different presentation elements; stories, jokes, anecdotes, video—throughout the presentation.