I recently listened to a friend give a presentation. I was looking forward to his presentation because of his sense of humor as well as his knowledge. He started the presentation wonderfully. The slides included lots of pictures. He used humor to make his points. He had the audience in the palm of his hand.
That all ended abruptly when he said, “I guess we should get serious.” The rest of the slides were filled with bulleted text. He stopped the humor and most of the audience stopped listening. Within ten minutes of “getting serious” I saw many people using their phones, tablets and laptops. Others were doing their best to listen but were restless in their seats. At the end, most of the audience left without talking to my friend even though the information was important.
You do not need to suck the fun out of information. If you want the audience to remember what you say, it’s important to put the fun into your presentation. Neuroscience has found the best way to anchor information is with emotion. Take a moment and recall a powerful old memory. You will not remember all the details but you remember the important parts and the emotion associated with the memory.
The next time you have facts the audience needs to remember, tie it to an emotion. You could work the fact into a joke or a story. I prefer humor to anchor facts when appropriate but there are many other emotions. Many sales people use fear with their facts to persuade clients to buy. Concern, the little brother to fear, can be a great audience motivator. Working in a verity of emotions in a presentation will keep your audience engaged as will as learning.
The next time you are working on a presentation, plan the emotions needed to anchor the facts. You will have the audience in the palm of your hand throughout the presentation.