Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Your Presentations: Controversial PowerPoint Research

Over the last several months I've given a life-times worth of PowerPoint presentations!  Okay, that's not true...it just seemed like it, both to me and, perhaps, to my audiences.

Bert Decker points out some interesting research about PowerPoint presentations; every missionary presenter should be aware of this.

Researchers at the University of NSW found that the brain cannot process written and spoken information well at the same time...The principle finding among some of the other controversial conclusions is "It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time."

He goes on to explain that the researchers found that slides that contained the same text that was being spoken were not effectively processed by the audiences minds. 

So stop with using PowerPoints with so much text! Use graphics, charts, pictures, symbols and the like - because they also found in their research that "It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form."

This is a pretty significant finding since many presenters use their slides as talking points, if not as their complete set of notes.  While I don't use a lot of text on my slides, I confess that I've used bullet points as reminders of what to say during the presentation.  If I want to communicate effectively, I shouldn't do this.

Good luck, and remember to use more charts, pictures and symbols.


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Beth said...

Amen to this. Speaking as an experienced audience member, it is quite annoying to have the entire presentation read aloud to one, as if one could not read for oneself, particularly since at least half the audience has already read the entire slide before the speaker even begins to say that same text aloud. another pet peeve - type that is so tiny it could only be read off the screen with a telescope. This is so pointless.
If only you could train all the speakers in the world Jeff!

Jeff said...

Beth, thanks for taking the time to comment! I'm sure I've bored my share of people too :) I'd love to hear other people's pet peeves here...that would rock.

I wish I was good enough to train people...right now all I can do is point to people that do it well and follow after them!