The Successful Presenter
Presentation insights to help you
inform, educate, influence and persuade


Take the 5-minute slide effectiveness challenge

Recently, I posted that it’s possible to increase communication effectiveness by up to 30 per cent by simply shutting off the projector to separate the written word from the spoken.

The research is actually quite clear. When people attempt to read and listen at the same time, they understand and retain less than if they do either activity separately.

Here’s a test you can try in a few minutes to put that assertion to the test.

The test uses a webinar by the American Association of Family Physicians entitled "Managing the COVID-19 Crisis: Maintaining the emotional health of you, your team, and your patients.”

When you’re ready, start the video below. It is set to start at a slide change that begins a section on self care.

Watch and listen until the next slide change, which takes slightly longer than a minute. When the slide changes, stop the video and write down what you heard and read.



Easy, wasn’t it?

When you’re ready, start the audio file below, which is from a slide presented a bit later in the same webinar. This time, the slide has been removed so you can just listen. (By the way, if you use this as an opportunity to read anything on this page or to check your e-mail, you’re not listening.)

When the audio stops, take a moment to write down what you remember from what you heard.

If you’re still not convinced, let’s go back to the first slide via the “sound only” link below. This time, when you start the audio file, just listen.

When the recording stops, look at what you wrote down the first time. Chances are that you’ll be surprised by how little you retained the first time through.


What this means to you
We only have two ways to communicate ideas as human beings. We have the written word. We have the spoken word. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Each has its strengths and weaknesses. But the research is unequivocal. To communicate most effectively, the written word must be separated from the spoken.

Whenever you put written information in front of the audience while you’re talking—as this article demonstrates, even the simplest of written information—whoever’s listening understands and retains less than if they simply read or they simply listen.

What does this little experiment say about the vast majority of the 30 to 40 million presentations delivered each day that ask audiences to read and listen at the same time?

For most people, the answer to that question is unsettling. It means that the research is correct.

The least effective way to communicate through presentations, whether delivered in the room or via Zoom, is the way it’s most often done.

If effectiveness is what you seek ...

Find it here
Cover of the book One Bucket at a Time.
One Bucket at a Time is designed to help you turn standard presentations into meaningful, memorable conversations with audiences.

For less than the cost of a single slide, you’ll gain insight into how audiences listen. You’ll learn how you can get more of what you say into the long-term memory of those in attendance, whether in the room or via Zoom.

You’ll learn to create presentations that tell a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. And you’ll understand how to tell that story in a memorable way, delivering your ideas to the audience one bucket at a time.

When you own this book, presentation effectiveness is at your fingertips. John Sweller, PhD, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists, writes:

“The central theme of this book that a presentation should be a conversation is ingenious. Humans have evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to communicate by conversation. We are mentally structured to do so.

“For anyone seeking to set themselves and their ideas apart, this book is well worth the read. Eric Bergman’s techniques are a window to the future of this important human activity.”

One Bucket at a Time is available from Amazon, Kindle and Apple Books.
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