Learning Lab

Poisonous Powerpoints…Protect your Presentation

By Amy Brann

Have you ever sat through a boring, sleep inducing, un-engaging powerpoint? Then you know how damaging it can be to the credibility of the person and message involved. It is better not to do a presentation than to do a bad one. In this day and age with all the resources and great presentation skills training out there, there really is no excuse for a bad presentation.

Presentations are key to sharing information and powerpoints provide a potentially great way to make your message more powerful. However, get a powerpoint wrong and you can poison your audience against you and your information.

Innerscope Research recently provided some wonderful examples on what makes a great presentation by measuring unconscious emotional responses (heart rate, breathing, skin sweat and motion). Attendees to the Association of National Advertisers Creativity Conference were fitted with a lightweight band around their lower ribcage, they probably forgot they were wearing it while it delivered immediate results to the processers.

Imagine literally being able to see the result that your presentation is having on people’s emotional engagement. Normally most people get to see if people are awake or falling asleep. A few well-trained people have sophisticated observational tools to assess how engaged the participants are.

Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist for Innerscope Research, said “Great stories told well, engaging videos, and simple take-home messages consistently increased the audience’s emotional engagement during presentations,”.

This is fantastic news for presenters because all of these things are easy to do. The difference between telling a person that they need to listen to people because it can be really helpful vs telling a story is huge. For example, the other day I was talking to my cousin who said that her company was looking to reduce her department by 60%. So in her small team of 6, only two would be kept on. She said that two of her colleagues have been looking for other jobs because they’ve wanted to leave for 6 months, one of them is struggling to balance work with her two small children and really wants to stay at home and another colleague is moving to America in 4 months.

Video is very engaging emotionally. This is partly due to things called mirror neurons. When we see, for example, a video of a person crying, we feel sad ourselves. If we were to watch people getting excited and their energy rising – our energy would rise too. If you wanted your audience to feel happy then encourporate people enjoying themselves and being happy in a video. It is quick and easy and very powerful.

The final gem is to use simple take-home messages. This enables the brain to grab onto something and link the simple easy to remember concept with the depth of information that has been conveyed. People will be able to talk about your presentation and actually convey information, rather than be vague and make it sound weak.

There are easy ways to make presentations powerful…make sure the next time you give a presentation you engage your audience emotionally!

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