At the national conference, Eric Bergman, author of 5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint,’ presented an open session that stood the concept of PowerPoint presentations on its head when he pointed out that audience members do not have the cognitive ability to simultaneously read slides and listen to a speaker.


To demonstrate this, Mr. Bergman showed the audience a Coca-Cola commercial that included several screen images, a voice sound over, and intermittent messages along the bottom of the screen. With so much going on at once, it was difficult to catch everything. Mr. Bergman then played the commercial once with only audio and once with only images. From this, the audience realized that they learned something new in each format because it was easier to absorb one input at a time.


In another demonstration, Mr. Bergman conducted a conversation with an audience member while the audience member first looked at the projector’s screen, and then while the two made eye contact. The audience member acknowledged that he was more engaged in the conversation when he made eye contact, exemplifying that, when audience members are looking at a screen, they are less inclined to listen to what the speaker is saying. The audience member also remembered more of the conversation when engaged with the speaker.


This open session was eye opening and revealed that, most of the time, slides should be removed from a presentation for true communication to take place. Mr. Bergman suggested that PowerPoint slides be sent out for review before a meeting so that they can be discussed during the meeting, not actively viewed. Mr. Bergman mentioned that Amazon and LinkedIn run their meetings this way.


For Mr. Bergman’s free workbook about this topic, Present with Ease, click here and visit his website.


Reprinted by permission of Cherie Dewar.




Engage your audience in conversation–they will be more engaged and remember the content of your talk.


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