You can leverage psychology to help your audience absorb information in your PowerPoint presentations. People can only process a limited amount of information at a time, but unfortunately the vast majority of people in business don’t create presentations that make it easy for their readers to retain information.
An academic study titled, “PowerPoint presentation flaws and failures: a psychological analysis,” analyzed business presentations based on psychological principals for understanding and absorbing information. The study found that there were 5 persistent errors that business professionals make in over 80% of PowerPoint presentations. Avoiding these common errors and applying these psychological principals will help your presentations stand out and ensure your readers are remembering your message.
Here are 5 easy tips to ensure that your readers will absorb your message in PowerPoint
1. Avoid Information Overload
People can only store four units of information in short-term memory. However, 91 percent of PowerPoint presentations contain bulleted lists with more than 4 items, overloading the working memory of readers. Fortunately, you can avoid this problem by changing your PowerPoint templates and checking your final presentations so they contain lists of four items or less.
2. Put Lists in a Hierarchy
Most presentations reflect the poor communication skills of their authors. Bulleted lists should be used multiple levels (sub bullets) to help categorize and prioritize information. As we now know our memory is limited; however, the use of hierarchical bullets can help display more information that readers will actually remember. Only 85 percent of slideshows contain hierarchical lists containing four or fewer units of information at each level. Limit each hierarchy of bullets (primary, secondary, etc.) to four or fewer bullets.
3. Don’t Rely on a Key for Labels
Business buzzwords and acronyms may help you be faster at writing, but they are confusing your readers, especially if they are not subject matter experts in your content. Readers cannot remember new acronyms in a limited period of time – Eliminate the need to search for labels and never only rely on a key with definitions of acronyms.
4. Give Your Readers/Listeners Enough Time
Most presentations fail to give people enough time to absorb important points. In fact, the duration you spend on each slide becomes especially important when it contains information that your audience perceives as either new or unfamiliar.
So, if you want to improve the audience’s experience, slow down the pace at which you move through your presentation. If slowing down risks causing your presentation to exceed its time allocation, you should consider eliminating information from it rather than accelerating its tempo.
5. Limit Your Bullet Length
Bullets should be used for concise information, not lengthy prose. As bullet points become longer, they become less effective. Keep your bulleted sentences to 2 lines or less—you’ll be ahead of 90 percent of your peers.
By using the above PowerPoint tips to create effective PowerPoint Templates, you can make your slideshows stand out. Your audience will absorb more information and thank you for it.
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