Presentation Skills: Go Behind the Scenes

Delivering presentations and keeping your audience engaged is a daunting task for experienced as well as amateur presenters. The adrenaline rush and the butterflies kick in despite the numbers of hours you put in preparing for that moment. This could eventually turn into one's worst nightmare if one fails to convince their audience or finds them snoring halfway through the presentation. To save yourselves the embarrassment, we have cracked the psychology of the human brain and its impact on presentations!

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1. The 10-20-30 Rule

The famous 10/20/30 rule is about 10 slides which last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.

On average, a human being cannot take in more than 10 concepts at once.

The problem-solution approach fits in well with this model, especially for start-up pitches. If we assess the average attention span in mind, it is incredibly crucial to limit your presentations to 20 minutes as the human brain can only concentrate until a specific time limit after which the incoming information is blocked. While 30 is the ideal font size regardless of the demographics of your audience, Guy Kawasaki's algorithm to determine the font size is find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. That’s your optimal font size.

2. The Rule of Thirds

'Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'- there is something about this phrase that one can never forget! The rule of thirds is not unique to presentations only but has a wide application across industries and in life. This magical rule stems from the way human process information by drawing patterns around them. Odd numbers are usually picked up by the brain more quickly than even digits which explain the mysterious, 'rule of three.' Within the set of odd numbers, three is the smallest number of elements that could form a pattern easy to remember. Give it a try!

3. The Psychology of Fonts

Fonts could be a real game-changer. Fonts bring harmony to the overall design of your presentation. It is vital to keep your fonts consistent and concise. A rule of thumb is to have no more than 3 font styles in a presentation. When we read, our eyes follow a natural pattern called a Scan Path; hence, it is essential to have a typeface, which makes it easier to scan and navigate across the presentation.

Choosing font is not a random process but a careful, informed process.

A research study shows that people who were exposed to the well-designed layout were found to have higher cognitive focus, more efficient mental processes, and a stronger sense of clarity. Some standard fonts and their associations are listed below:

a. Sans-serif Fonts – Viewed as informal and playful. Best suited for digital.

b. Script Fonts – Resembles handwriting and often used in formal invitations.

c. Decorative Fonts – Informal fonts viewed as original. Best suited for headlines but not body copy.

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4. The Science of Colors

While colors' contextual meaning vary in different cultures, there are specific standards which apply across industries.

a. Purple signifies nostalgia, sentimental, luxury, quality, and authenticity and is often used in tech, design, and luxury industry.

b. For all the coffee lovers, brown represents honesty, simplicity, nature, and earthiness.

c. Blue represents competence, intelligence, trust, and efficiency

d. Green is a sign of life, growth, stability, and endurance. It is widely used for outdoors, health, and eco-friendly subjects.

5. Visual Content

The human brain is visually-oriented: 90% of the information transmitted to our mind is visual. Presentations with visuals are 43% more persuasive, and 65% of us are visual learners.

50% of our brain is active in visual processing.

These facts about the brain are enough to understand why we have been warned about using fonts in our presentations. Your presentation delivery should sync well with your slide deck. A great tip to go about this is to use your presentation delivery to explain the visuals in your deck.