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

Looking to improve presentation effectiveness by 30%?

Simply turn off the projector

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Believe it or not, the research is clear. One simple act can help you improve your presentation effectiveness by 20 to 30 per cent.

It sounds simple, but for many it isn’t.

All you have to do is turn off the projector when you’re in the room, or not share your slides when delivering via Zoom.

Humans simply cannot read and listen at the same time. In 2007, a research team from the University of New South Wales, led by John Sweller, PhD, released a study that concluded that when humans attempt to do both simultaneously, working memory is overloaded. They retain less than if they either read or listen separately.

This led Professor Sweller to exclaim nearly 14 years ago that “the use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster. It should be ditched.”

Subsequent studies have tested this concept further by delivering the same presentation to two audiences. In one, slides were shown. In the other, slides were not shown but the same information was presented.

Each audience was then asked to complete a quiz, based on information presented. In multiple studies, the audience that didn’t see the slides score 20 to 30 per cent higher than the audience that did.

The fact that we can’t read and listen is actually quite easy to test.

The next time you’re watching your favourite all-news channel, try listening to what the announcer is saying while reading what’s scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Even if both are based on the same story, it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to realize you can’t do both. If you hope to get anything out of the exercise, you have to block out one or the other.

The same happens during presentations with even the simplest of written information on the screen.

So what does this mean for the presentations you deliver?

If you’re in the room, turn off the projector or blank your screen. If you’re delivering via Zoom (or some other technology), don’t share your slides. Instead, use your slides as your notes (as you’ve always done) and simply talk to your audience.

Let’s face it. Your slides are your notes, and your notes are on your laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone. Deliver your presentation as you normally would, but without showing a single bullet point to the audience.

If you truly need a visual to aid understanding, introduce it, show it and allow them to absorb it. Ideally, answer questions about it. When it’s no longer needed, remove it from view and carry on the conversation with the audience.

If you have the courage to implement this change, your audience will retain almost a third more of what you present.

And your ability to inform, educate, influence or persuade any audience will increase proportionately.

Turn standard presentations ...

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

With this single resource, 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. You’ll understand how to tell that story in a memorable way, delivering your ideas to the audience one idea at a time. And you’ll gain insight into why answering questions is the magical topping to having ideas understood and retained, long after your audience has left the room or signed off Zoom.

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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