8 psychological principles to make a memorable presentation

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“Most presenters are neglectful of how individuals learn. A few years ago, a research team led by Stephen Kosslyn and comprised of experts from Stanford, the University of Amsterdam, and Harvard made it a mission to unpack how presenters could improve in the art of public speaking. What they discovered were 3 steps that go into receiving and digesting information from a presentation:

1) Information needs to be acquired

2) Information needs to be processed

3) Information needs to be connected to knowledge

If there is any disconnect from steps 1-3, a presentation will not be effective. Their study went one step further by unraveling 8 key principles that help people remember. Here they are:

1) Information needs to be acquired

Principle 1_Distinguishability
Every presenter needs to make it extremely easy for an audience member to distinguish colors, typography, size, format, etc.

Principle 2_Perceptual organization
The content and design of your deck must have order and a sense of purpose. There must be a logical flow or the message will not be received well.

Principle 3_Salience
Important and critical concepts must be clearly defined visually by using simple design techniques like white space or the rule of thirds.

2) Information needs to be processed

Principle 4_Limited capacity
A presenter’s message must be simple and easy to understand and retain. One must imagine they are talking to a child when presenting.

Principle 5_Informative change
Any change must have purpose and meaning. Don’t use animations and transitions just for the purpose of novelty.

3) Information needs to be connected to knowledge

Principle 6_Appropriate knowledge
Jargon and difficult concepts must always be avoided. Great presentations are about brevity and levity.

Principle 7_Compatibility
Every presentation must add value to the audience’s life.

Principle 8_Relevance
The human brain has limited capacity. Therefore, every message should maintain a level of depth to keep things relevant while being simplified logically and visually for the audience to help with retention.

These are 8 principles that can take your next presentation to the next level if you incorporate them when preparing for your next talk. The main lesson here: don’t neglect how the human brain functions and learns. Trust me. Your audience will appreciate your careful planning.”

Scott Schwertly author of ‘How to Be a Presentation God’ and CEO of Ethos3

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