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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.

A PowerPoint Presentation is Not a Literary Document

Since its release in 1990, PowerPoint has become one of the most-used presentation tools both in the boardroom and out of it. Its numerous features and user-friendliness have made it popular among on-the-go individuals in need of complementary visuals.

However, it’s for the same reasons that people tend to abuse PowerPoint when making slide presentations. Even higher-ups are guilty of overdesigning and creating a visually appealing but overflowing slide with too much content. Though done with the intention of improving audience learning, it’s among the riskiest behaviors that weaken your credibility.

If you’ve been using this software in your talks, seminars and meetings, steer clear from treating it as a literary document. Avoid this presentation trap by following these expert tips:

Avoid Overcrowding Text

Long passages and dramatic sentences are for books, not for slides. Throwing heavy-text at your audience is only effective at tuning them out from your discussion. Though your point is to convey a complete thought, it can still cause confusion when a bunch of ideas is presented at the same time.

Don’t risk losing your audience’s attention. Limit your content to a few points for a clear and concise presentation. Start by asking yourself: “Do they really need to know this?”

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Use Effective Visuals

In response to being too verbose, using effective visuals is a sure way to prevent your slide presentation from looking like a literary piece. Images, videos, or any moving elements are great substitutes for text.

Since visuals are processed 60,000 times faster compared to text, take advantage of them to make an influential and engaging pitch.

Don’t Read Your Slides

Literary works require thorough appreciation, but reading your slide while you’re presenting is like stating the obvious. This was actually pinpointed as the top habit that annoyed audiences in Dave Paradi’s 2013 PowerPoint survey.

When you read off each word, you lose your connection with your listeners, leaving them with this impression: “This guy spends a lot of time facing the screen.” Rid yourself of this bad presentation habit. At the same time, learn how not to depend on your script.

It’s okay to read bits of information from your deck, as long as you limit it to the absolute minimum to let you glide into a more natural and expressive way of talking.


Despite the fact that literary works such as stories make presentations successful, your PowerPoint slides shouldn’t be crammed with text just to instill a sense of drama to your audience. Got problems creating PowerPoint presentation that sell? Contact SlideGenius and we’ll help you design a deck with a selling edge!


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How Not to Depend on Your PowerPoint Presentation Scripts.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed August 6, 2015.
Latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results.Think Outside The Slide. August 28, 2012. Accessed August 6, 2015.
The Power of Visual Communication.” Billion Dollar Graphics. Accessed August 6, 2015.

Fix Design Annoyances for Great PowerPoint Presentations

Alienating your audience is a terrible way of getting through a presentation. As a presenter, you want to effectively communicate your message without annoying anyone.

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In one of his “Annoying PowerPoint” surveys, David Paradi presented seven of the most annoying presentation mistakes involving content, delivery, and design.

Let’s discuss four of these bad habits and why they hinder you from making great PowerPoint presentations.

Small Text

Many people dislike small, hard-to-read text.

Your content may be great, but small text might hinder you from conveying your message. Imagine if somebody wrote you a note with extremely tiny text—would you even go through the effort of finding a tool to read it. You’d most likely just throw the note away.

This goes the same with PowerPoint slides. Make your slides noticeable to your audience.

Presentations are not white papers. Text shouldn’t be shrunk down to fit more content into each slide. Consider the eyesight of your audience when choosing a font size, preferably one that they can view from a comfortable distance.

Full-Length Sentences

If you were asked to read a slide full of run-on sentences, would you actually bother looking at it? The survey showed that 48.4% of respondents thought this was one of the biggest annoyances.

Compared to single words or phrases, people need more time to read complete sentences. Make it easier for them by using bullet points and keywords in your slides.

Overly Complex Diagrams

Every presenter has resorted to diagrams and charts to explain a process or concept at least once in their lives.

However, overly complex visual guides may actually make it more difficult for audiences to comprehend your point. According to the survey, 30.8% of participants hate hard-to-understand graphics.

Using diagrams isn’t a sin, but break them into sections so your thoughts aren’t cluttered. Visuals can bring life to your message, but with improper use, it can confuse audiences. Stick to simple figures when communicating complex ideas.

Poor Color Choice

Inconsistently using color throughout your deck can cause eye fatigue—25.8% of respondents cited poor color choice as one of the common pitfalls in slide design.

Choosing the right colors for your PowerPoint design is a must. Be extra careful when experimenting with color combinations.

People have different perspectives towards different palettes. When in doubt, use a dark color on a light background, or vice versa. Don’t use colors that are too similar to each other, as these are hard to distinguish, especially when projected.

Put a stop to bad presentation habits and optimize your deck. All it takes is a little extra care when designing your slides. Make sure your text is big enough to read from a distance. Use shorter phrases or single words instead of full sentences so that it’s easier for people to remember your message. Don’t overcomplicate things with complex diagrams.

Catch your audience’s interest and stay on top of the presentation game by improving the design elements of your PowerPoint slide.

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Latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results.” Think Outside the Slide. Accessed April 22, 2015.
The Art of Graphs and Charts.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 21, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2015.

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Featured Image: “You Suck at PowerPoint!” by Jesse Desjardins on SlideShare