Today I would like to talk about preparing our presentations; more specifically about the relationship between the script (what we say) and the graphics (what we show).
Many of us wrongly assume that showing the audience a text at the same time as saying it is beneficial. But we need to remember that our brains, much as we’d like them to, cannot multitask. It’s impossible for us to read and listen at the same time. When we expose our brains to such a challenge the process of switching between listening and reading begins. Our brains need to constantly drift between these two activities. I guess it’s not really difficult to imagine the result of such shifts.
When we’re preparing a presentation we need to make sure that what we say complements what we show. By no means what we say and what we show should be the same. Our audience waits to receive one, consistent and focused message. That’s why they shouldn’t get the complete idea from either what has been said or shown to them. To keep our audience engaged we can sometimes convey our message by the script, other times by the graphics - we need our audience to pay attention; not to be idle.
I am sure that we are all guilty of preparing slides packed with texts, points to consider, action plans etc. Then, we go through them thinking that we're able to reinforce our visuals by simply reading them out loud. But we need to face the truth- such a practice doesn't engage our audience. It can help us to say what we what to say but it certainly doesn't help people remember our message. Hard as it might be, we need to resist the temptation to use bullet-point lists in our presentations. Reading to the audience what they can read themselves has little or no value. If we really feel that we need to show some text to our audience- let’s do so - but we also need to give them time to read that in silence.
Our aim is to give a good presentation- the one which is remembered and has tangible outcomes. Learning how to integrate what we show and what we tell can sound like a daunting challenge but, believe me, the benefits are amazing.
Written by Agnieszka Kansy