The Science Behind a Pitch-Perfect Presentation
We reveal three special techniques that are scientifically proven to win over audiences
We have science to back up why presenting information in groups of three, telling stories and choosing the right colors will boost your presentation.
You’ve planned and fine-tuned your big presentation—and now it’s time to take the show on the road. But even if you ace the practice run in your hotel room, we know the stakes are higher once you walk out our doors and get in front of an audience. Follow these presentation tips—backed by the latest research in neuroscience and psychology—to make sure you capture their attention and wow them with your ideas.
Harness the power of three
The goal of any presentation is for people to remember it—and to buy what you’re selling. But if you have too many points (or too many slides), your ideas can get lost. Help your audience retain your message by presenting it in an easy-to-understand manner.
How to do it: Try to follow the rule of three. Studies in neuroscience and psychology have uncovered that people can only effectively absorb three to seven points during the short term. In fact, that’s why phone numbers only have seven digits. Keep your presentation simple and memorable by packaging your key messages into groups of three—such as “three objectives” or “six key takeaways.”
Color them interested
Eighty-five percent of consumers say they consider color when deciding what to buy—which proves that hue plays an important role in a person’s receptiveness to new things (and new ideas). So how color plays into your presentation—from what you wear to the colors you use in your materials (think PowerPoint presentations, handouts, conference collateral, swag, etc.)—is much more than just window dressing.
How to do it: Choose a color that you want people to identify with you and your message, says Dawn Del Russo, an on-air style expert and author. “Whenever I do TV segments, I wear coral; that’s my signature color,” she explains. “I feel confident in it and it makes me feel good. It also makes a statement.” Understanding how different colors make people feel is key to choosing the right colors for you. Researchers say that red stimulates attention to detail and excitement, blue encourages creativity and invokes peace, green encourages discussion and interaction, and yellow stimulates mental activity and enhances memory (great for highlighting key points!).
Don’t ignore the right side of the brain
Neuroscientists have discovered that storytelling ignites the sensory cortex in the brain, which allows listeners to almost feel, hear, taste and smell the experiences being described. What does this mean for how to present? A well-constructed narrative is powerful. Stories incite emotion, and for most, emotion plays a critical role in driving decision making.
How to do it: Is your product improving lives? Is your work changing the world in some way (big or small)? Weave that story into your presentation. Yes, data and facts reinforce your position, but stories are much easier for the human mind to understand and recall. “Data, while necessary, can be boring,” says Rick Lozano, a corporate trainer and keynote speaker who uses singing and songwriting to help coach and train people across the globe. “Human beings are wired for storytelling. What story can we tell that makes these numbers come to life? If we can connect to their journey, their experience, they might be more likely to listen."