Research into cognitive load theory (J Sweller) and multimedia learning (RE Mayer) has resulted in a number of principles being established with respect to multimedia learning. All of these can be applied to the creation and delivery of memorable PowerPoint and sales presentations. Some are applicable to presentation handouts, too.
1. Animation Adds to Narration
Words and pictures are better than words alone. We all know that bullet-points are worse than useless. But, what else is there to do? Use animation to deliver your presentation sales message synchronously with narration. Tell (and sell) your persuasive presentation material at your own segmented pace. How? Understand what your would-be bullet point list describes. Is it a timeline? Perhaps it is a chart or graph? Visualise your presentation sales message and think of the best way to explain the story to your audience.
2. Co-locate Text and Images
If you do have words on a slide, make sure they’re spatially connected to an appropriate image or animation. Make sure, that is, that words are clearly and intentionally part of your story. Text floating free on the far side of the screen is likely to be a distraction. And distractions mean that you and your presentation sales message will be ignored and/or forgotten.
For presentation handouts, make sure that any diagrams are on the same page (or facing page) as its explanation. If readers have to turn the page in order to read the explanation, their ability to recall will be impacted.
3. Synchronise Animation and Narration
Put simply, you have to know what happens when you click the button. Synchronicity is the key to success and seeming authority of winning sales presentations. If you have to break eye contact with the audience to use what’s on the screen as a prompt for what to say, you’ll have missed the synchronous magic of sight and sound. Plus, you’re signalling to the audience that you haven’t rehearsed your message sufficiently which suggests a lack of respect.
4. Focus on the Message
Eliminate material redundant to the central message. Deliver the minimum amount necessary to get the message across and then move on.
5. Narrated Animations are Powerful
Appropriate pictures, supported by narration perform better than pictures supported by text. With respect to getting a message into long-term memory, it is better to tell the audience your important points rather than have them read from the screen.
6. Support Narrated Animations with Text-Free Graphics
If you present text heavy slides at the same time as speaking to your audience, they will either (a) read the text and ignore you, or (b) ignore the text and listen to you, or (c) ignore everything and fiddle with their emails. The more text there is to read, the greater the chance that the audience isn’t listening to you. Design for the minimum amount of text. Most of the ‘text’ should be spoken, supported by strong graphics.
7. Conversational Language Improves Recall
There’s a great temptation to be overly formal when you’re pitching for business. Relax. Conversational language is easier to recall and feels more human, making it easier for your client to connect with your messages.