Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New brain research reveals clues on how to deliver effective presentations

John Medina, a leading developmental molecular biologist, found that our brains are wired to lose attention after 10 minutes, ignore uninteresting subjects and require images to retain information. Carmine Gallo, BusinessWeek columnist, recently interviewed Medina on how his new findings could help business leaders deliver effective presentations to any audience.

Here’s what he learned and how it can help you develop better business presentations:

Your brain tunes out after 10 minutes. If you’re delivering important information to an audience and want to hold their attention past the first ten minutes, engage your audience before each 10-minute increment of your presentation. Plan out exercises, such as telling a story or showing a video clip, at 10-minute intervals throughout your presentation.

Your brain doesn’t pay attention to “boring” subjects. “This comes directly from our evolutionary history. We didn't care about the number of vertical lines in the teeth of the saber-toothed tiger. We cared about whether it was going to clamp down on our thigh. We were more interested in the meaning of the mouth than the details."

Your brain craves pictures. “Conventional, text-heavy PowerPoint decks should be thrown out and replaced with image-rich slides,” says Gallo. The brain doesn’t see letters, only pictures, according to Medina. “If information is presented orally, people remember about 10%, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figures goes up to 65% if you add a picture,"

Need some more pointers? Check out Know HR’s list of the Top 10 Best Presentations Ever.

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