At what point is your PowerPoint taking away from what you have to say, ultimately doing more harm than good to your presentation? German psychologist Chrstof Wecker did a study on oral information retention when using a PowerPoint presentation, and his results were very interesting.
The study’s abstract states:
“The objective of this study was to test whether information presented on slides during presentations is retained at the expense of information presented only orally, and to investigate part of the conditions under which this effect occurs, and how it can be avoided.”
The study found that “regular” slides negatively affected how much of what the presenter said was retained by the test audience. This means the presenter would be better off using no PowerPoint at all if he or she wanted the audience to retain more of what was said during the presentation.
However, the study found that correctly done, concise slides were by far the best for maximum retention of information, both orally and visually. This is because the two complimented each other without overloading the audience’s ability to take in new information.
We’ve all heard this lesson many times before, but here is scientific evidence that you don’t want to overload your audience with cluttered slides, because the mind naturally prioritizes visual information over auditory information.
Another important lesson to take from this is to keep in mind that your PowerPoint presentation is there for your audience; it’s not your teleprompter. Many people will cram their slides with as much information as possible, and then use them as their talking points. This is detrimental to a presentation for a couple reasons.
First, while there isn’t likely to be much information lost since you’ll essentially be repeating everything on your PowerPoint slides, you’ll create a totally impersonal presentation. You’ll take away the need for a human being presenting the information, which obviously has the capacity to be more engaging than words on a page. You’ll also fail to make eye contact while you’re speaking if you’re constantly reading off your PowerPoint, which is sacrificing a great tool for drawing people in while you’re speaking.
While simplicity and conciseness are hugely important when creating a visual aid to accompany you in a presentation, there are several other factors that come into play to guarantee that your presentation packs a punch. Professional PowerPoint designers and presentation specialists are vital in taking all these factors into account when creating your presentation in order to ensure your presentation is both easily retained and enthralling.