PowerPoint Audiences are People, Too

PowerPoint Audiences are People, Too

I “grew up” in the marketing and advertising world. For each project we carefully analyzed the target audience in an effort to create relevant and effective materials that connect with them emotionally and compel them to act. We leveraged information using market research, demographics and psychographies. That strategic approach to communications has served me well in my PowerPoint presentation design business.

And that’s why I always ask my clients to help me understand the audience(s) who will be receiving their presentation. Not surprisingly the audiences vary. They vary by age. They vary by profession. They vary by primary language. The differences are endless.

‘Good stuff to know — the differences.

But understanding what each member of your target audience(s) has in common with another, is what I believe makes for a better presentation. It’s understanding that each and every member of an audience is a human being (well, for the presentations I create, anyway). It’s understanding that human beings learn in very specific ways and that a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation stuffed full of paragraph-length bullet points and chart junk (God love ya, Mr.Tufte) does not facilitate learning.

Creating a memorable presentation facilitates learning. Now, I’m not talking about the goose-bumpy, aw-inspiring, keynote type of memorable (which is always a nice touch; right? but not everyone is capable of  delivering that sort of presentation). I mean, a presentation from which people, mere humans, can remember what was said.

So how does one make a presentation “memorable?” How does one help people remember what he or she said? I use science. Yep. It’s called the Redundancy Principal. It’s one of 12 principles developed by Richard Mayer and originally published in his book, Multimedia Learning. The Redundancy Principal states that:

”People learn better from graphics and narration thanfrom graphics, narration, and on-screen text.”

What does that mean for those of us who create PowerPoint presentations (or any presentation using any software program)? Each slide should be designed using  a relevant graphic that relies on the presenter to provide the narrative (vs. the narrative being on the slide. This positions the presenter as the expert — and who wants to listen to a presenter who is not the expert?). Headlines are also important. I’ll discuss that later.

Remember, PowerPoint Audiences are People, Too. Or, perhaps better said, ” … People, First.” By remembering this human element when creating your PowerPoint presentations, you’ll design slides that connect with your audiences in a very intellectual and emotional way.