Speak with impact – effective PowerPoint presentations


In my quest to find some simple, effective presentation graphics I found some interesting research by Dr Richard Mayer and his principles of Multimedia Learning.

He found that audiences are more immersed in a presentation delivered with both pictures and words. However, these principles also highlight the need for:

Redundancy – effectiveness is reduced when the audience sees and hears the same message.

Coherency – holding the attention of the audience is improved with focused cues to key material.

At Black Isle, we teach that the brain can only ‘think about’ one thing at a time – either what it is hearing or what it is seeing. This is scientifically proven. Take these scenarios as examples:

1. You are admiring a view. I’m saying short bursts of comments about the view, pointing things out. You will think about what is being said as you look to see them in the view. No problem.

2. You are reading a newspaper, and I start to tell you what I think about the article while you try to read. That will annoy you.

Another way of putting it:

3. You are watching a thrilling tennis game, and I start telling you about the player’s girlfriend and what she said to my friend when they met last Christmas. You will probably tell me to shut up.

4. You are watching a thrilling tennis game and I say things like “Great shot …what a volley… how did he get that?”.

Examples 1 & 4 work because the visual is being used actively.

The moral of the story is that visual aids and words can be used together but visuals should complement or emphasise the spoken presentation not distract from it. Without the presence of the speaker, pauses, and Tell & Show the ideas cannot develop.

Read our previous blog: Never Ask Your Audience to Multi-task.