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Information Retention: Remembering PowerPoint Presentations

Given the amount of information you cram into your presentation, getting people to remember all of it is a feat in itself.

This is why people have different ways of presenting. Some like to build an emotional bond with their audience while others provide hard data and analytics.

It doesn’t matter which type of presenter you are if the audience doesn’t remember anything about it. You have to give them something that will stick for as long as they will keep remembering your brand.

If you’re hiring presentation specialists, expect to receive a deck that is nothing short of impressive. This makes it easier for your audience to remember the information you’re feeding them.

Retention Rates

People retain information in various ways and while there isn’t a manual on what works best for everyone, adults retain approximately 10% of what they see; 30%–40% of what they see and hear; and 90% of what they see, hear, and experience—this, according to the National Highway Institute’s “Principle of Adult Learning & Instructional Systems Design.”

The way your audience retains information is vital in presentation design because the more effective and engaging it is, the more people will remember it at the end of the week.

It’s worrying if you’re eyeing for a favorable business decision and you end up giving a mediocre presentation. This results in investors having already forgotten what you’ve said a week later, and likely that your information won’t be considered when they need to reach a decision.

The phrase, “Content is King,” may be overused, but it stays true, even for presentations. Make sure they remember a catchy headline, powerful quote, or striking image.

How exactly can you make your presentation more memorable?

Visual Impact

Instead of using bullet points, use images that resonate with the audience. This inspires them to act, making it easier for them to retain information for much longer.

Visuals shouldn’t distract the audience, but rather, reel them in and help them become engaged in the discussion.

Print Collateral

Brochures, flipbooks, executive summaries—if you want to provide more information without taking much of your audience’s time, have handouts ready by the end of your presentation. That, or you can provide downloadable versions of your PowerPoint so they can look over it and check if they’ve missed anything. These provide notable facts and figures essential for business decisions that might have to be made in the future.

Stop filling your slides with fluff and instead, make your message clear and concise. Have your key points ready and focus on what you want to get across, and be prepared for whatever they might throw your way at the end of the presentation.

Make sure your PowerPoint presentation contains memorable features that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. If you want to make sure that it’s effective and engaging, rehearse, and apply whatever feedback you receive from peers.

4 Tips to Make Your Presentation Clear and Concise

If you’re confident by how your slides turned out and your audience still tunes it out, take a step back and analyze how you speak.

It’s your job as the speaker to stimulate engagement and effectively get your message across.

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Here are four simple ways to help you deliver a clear and concise presentation.

Use Precise Words

There are many ways to express one idea, but clarity shouldn’t be sacrificed for novelty.

Cut down your speech while giving life to your words by using precise language. Choose words that most accurately depict what you want to convey.

Note the difference in the following paired sentences:

Good: “Some audiences prefer eye contact to establish strong emotional connections.”
Better: “70% of audiences use eye contact to form emotional connections.”

The second example gave an actual statistic to help the audience visualize what it truly meant. In the same way, let your audience know what exactly you’re talking about by giving more precise examples.

Use Familiar and Easy-to-Understand Words

Public speaking demands that the speaker is understood easily and instantly. It’s not the best time to show off your extensive vocabulary.

Your audience won’t have time to check their dictionaries, so keep your word choices simple and straight to the point. For example:

For example:
“A ubiquitous technique among presenters is the projection of a precarious method in order to indemnify their audience’s attention.”

The previous sentence is not only difficult to understand, it also makes the speaker seem highfalutin. This may cost you your credibility, so instead of difficult jargon, say “common” instead of “ubiquitous,” “risky” instead of “precarious,” and “ensure” instead of “indemnify.”

Use Short and Simply Constructed Sentences

Even the most intent listeners can lose track of long and complicated sentences.

Express complex ideas by using easily understood sentences. Refer to the following statements:

Good: “We are at the threshold of a crisis situation which threatens to destabilize the status quo and usher in the dawn of a new era of change.”
Better: “We have a crisis at hand. This threatens to destabilize the status quo and usher in a new era.”

The first example is too long-winded and confusing. The second one, on the other hand, punctuates two independent clauses and lets your listeners pause and think about each statement.

Provide Verbal Guideposts

Use verbal guideposts to signal the importance of ideas or a shift to another idea. These can come in the form of repetitions or transition signals.

Repetition allows you to emphasize an important thought.

“Presentations conducted in person are still effective. Yes, they are still effective in terms of establishing personal connections with your clients.”

This example uses repetition to emphasize the problem and add more information to the primary idea.

On the other hand, transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that show relationships and suggest movement between ideas.

“I have discussed the nature of the problem. Let me now discuss the solutions.”
“I have come to the most important part of my presentation. Please listen well.”

In both cases, the second sentences of each statement signal the start of the speaker’s discussion. Similarly, use transitions to let the audience know you’re about to discuss something important.

People’s attention spans are short. The bad news is that they’re getting even shorter. Best engage your listeners through clear and concise language.

Keep these four tips in mind next time you take the stage. Good luck and happy presenting!

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3 Ways to Cut Back Your Text-Heavy PowerPoint Slides.” SlideGenius Inc. February 24, 2015. Accessed May 22, 2015.
Cues.” Accessed May 22, 2015.
Self-Evaluation Guide after a PowerPoint Presentation.” SlideGenius Inc. Accessed May 22, 2015.
Watson, Leon. “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” The Telegraph. Accessed May 22, 2015.