Hand on heart: Do you remember commercials, music clips, or TV shows that are designed exactly like thousands of others you’ve seen before? When you leafed through a journal, did you remember any ad that was printed there? Presumably, this is rarely the case. Was it due to the bumbling implementation? Probably not, because advertisers or filmmakers usually know their craft quite well. Very likely, the habituation effect meant that you simply no longer felt emotionally addressed.
That’s how we feel about everything that becomes somewhat routine for us. Presentations are no different. I have seen a large amount of presentations due to my job. A maximum of five percent really impressed me; the rest fluctuated between solid or mediocre to really unsuccessful. Those five percent of presentations that were really great surprised and entertained me well because of the way they conveyed a message. The speaker had my undivided attention during his talk, and I have retained the essential information to this day.
The brain reacts very intensively to new impressions. The willingness to learn is actually higher when curiosity is aroused by surprising presentation methods. Therefore, it may be beneficial for you to design your presentation a little differently than what your audience expects from you. If your way of presenting content is out of the ordinary, you will clearly stand out from the crowd of usual presentations.
What is different remains in memory. It starts with the greeting. Instead of making a lengthy introduction, you could show an item that leads to your topic. Suppose you want to talk about quantum physics to a lay audience. Then maybe you could hold a stuffed cat out to your viewers. Promise that the cat has something to do with your talk, and come back to it later. This will arouse a little curiosity in your auditorium as to where there might be a connection here. Later you come to the thought experiment with “Schrödinger’s cat” and the connection becomes clear. You can use an unusual slide design to make the main arguments of your presentation easier to grasp. Perhaps small animations can also bring new impulses for the attention of your viewers.
Can’t such experiments also be dangerous during presentation? Yes, absolutely. For example, if you are showing a company presentation to an important client, you need to be absolutely sure that nothing will go wrong. Untested design elements, a dramaturgy that has not yet been tested in practice, or a speaker delivering a presentation to an audience for the first time are incalculable risks that must be avoided urgently. Besides, “unusual” doesn’t mean “brain-friendly” by a long shot. You can deviate from the well-trodden presentation paths and stimulate the brains of the audience intensively and positively in the process. Unfortunately, you can also very quickly choose a path that is more likely to cause confusion and frustration among your audience. Because if you overwhelm your viewers with too many “bells and whistles,” they won’t follow you after a short time.
If you are speaking in front of an important audience and would like to make your presentation more interesting, you should seek the advice of an expert to be on the safe side. Agencies that are involved in creating corporate presentations for a wide variety of clients on a daily basis can tell you quickly and reliably whether your new ideas can be integrated into your presentation in a meaningful way. There you will also receive binding feedback on what works well in your industry and with your target group, and which new ideas are ultimately unsuitable for inspiring your audience after all. You know: There is no second chance for the first impression.
Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Informatiker Matthias Garten as the expert for multimedia presentations and professional PowerPoint presentations knows about the art of professional slide design. He is an entrepreneur, speaker (TOP 100 Speaker), trainer (TOP 100 Excellence Trainer), multiple book author, presentation coach (presentation training), member of the GSA and Club 55, organizer of the Presentation Conference, Presentation Bootcamp and Presentation Rocket Day. In addition to PowerPoint and presentation training, he inspires and advises companies to present themselves even more effectively and thus stand out from competitors. He is the business owner of the presentation and PowerPoint agency smavicon Best Business Presentations and with his team has created over 15,000 professional PowerPoint presentations for over 150 industries since 1993.