PowerPoint Tip - Research on Effective Presentations

Late last year I was contacted by the membership chair of the Infocomm International Presentations Council because she had seen my work and thought I could contribute to their group. Infocomm International is the world-wide trade association for the A/V industry. Last month I joined the council and have become aware of the many great things they are doing. One of the resources that is available to anyone is a site called the Visual Being blog at http://www.visualbeing.com . In addition to being able to listen in as experts in the industry discuss current ideas and trends, there is also a section on the site that summarizes academic research that is being done into what is effective in presentations. More and more, researchers in universities are investigating how digital media is being used communicate in person and on the web. And these studies are giving us insight into what will work best for our audiences. One of the Presentations Council members, Robert Befus, has set up a part of the Visual Being site, called Presentation Facts (the link is on the right side of the screen), that summarizes these reports. Advanced presenters are always looking for the latest ideas and when they are based in research, it is even more valuable. One of the ideas that I recently gleaned from this site is that according to a 1986 study, an average presenter using good visual support is perceived as equal to a better presenter with no visual support. What this suggested to me is that if you want to improve your presentations, perhaps the best quick step you can take is to learn how to create better visuals. I don't suggest you should stop working on being a better speaker - both are necessary to get to advanced levels. It's just that perhaps while you are working on your speaking skills (through Toastmasters or other routes), you can improve the audience's perception by improving your slides (check out the NYC workshop above for a one-day intensive jump start). If you are looking to take your presentations to the next level, I suggest you check it out at http://www.visualbeing.com.