The Focus of PowerPoint
Posted by Presentation Skills on April 18, 2008
Yesterday I was in a three hour lecture where the speaker used a ppt presentation as the basis of her message. As I watched her speak, I noticed that her attention was constantly being diverted between three places. The result of this was that she found it hard to concentrate on what she was saying.
Where was she focusing?
She was trying to focus on three places at once. She was focusing on the screen where the audience was looking. She was focusing on her computer to control her presentation. And finally she was focusing on us – the audience. The trouble is that when you divert your conscious attention to so many places all at once, you are unable to pay adequate attention to any of them.
As a result of her constantly changing her focus, she constantly had to change her thought patterns. Even though the changes were only slight, it was enough to distupt the flow.
Why does this happen? It is because of the way the brain is structured. Whilst all visual information is processed in the visual cortex, there are different parts of the visual cortex that process different types of visual information. By constantly changing visual inputs in such a disjointed and random matter, she had to re-establish her thought patterns after each change. This caused he to lose her place for an instant with annoying consequences.
What was the result? In 5 minutes I counted 64 ‘filler words’. These included the traditional ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, but also she said, ‘I guess’ a lot. Now when you are a speaker – and speaking as an expert – telling your audience that you are ‘guessing’ is not good for your credibility.
At 64 filler words in 5 minutes, she spoke an extra 2304 words for the three hour presentation. That is about 15 minutes of speaking! That’s huge!
If she was able to place her attention on the audience and forget about looking at her computer and screen, she would have made a much stronger connection with her audience, reduced the number of filler words used, and been able to remember her presentation more clearly and concisely.
Til next time.