My college psychology teacher made a comment during a lecture that has stuck with me for over 30 years. During one of his lectures, he stated, “The main reason most people are considered insane is because they hold on to a feeling long after it is useful.” I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world that quote has to do with presentations.
For those of us that have experienced bad presentations, one of the issues they all have in common is the lack of change during the presentation. There maybe small changes in slides and changes in some of the topics but everything else remains the same. The energy level is constant throughout the presentation. The slides are all based on a single template. The tone of the presenter is constant. Along with many other components that make up a good presentation, everything stays the same.
This sameness is a way to drive your audience insane. Too much sameness leads to boredom. Can you imagine watching a movie where all the dialogues and settings are exactly the same? What if the entire movie were shot in a single location with a fixed camera position? How long would you be watching that movie? I bet you would turn it off relatively quickly.
Cognitive science has shown that the mind thrives upon change. This is how you keep an audience engaged. It’s important to change the energy level throughout the presentation. Ways to keep the energy level up is to strategically add elements that will shift the energy in the audience. Some of these elements are funny stories, jokes, and sad stories breaking up the type of slides that are shown. By adding an element of what’s coming next in the mind of the audience, you keep them from turning you off as they would a boring movie.