Avoid distractions

There is a lot of advice on the internet and from training companies on how to make a good presentation and it seems to boil down to keep the audience focussed and eliminate any distractions.

PowerPoint and its infinite set of fancy animations is a good example how easily people can be distracted. As a result the focus on the content is lost quite often. The brain is not really capable of multi-tasking. We can talk and breathe, but when it comes to higher level tasks, we just can’t do it.

Sometimes we even have difficulties seeing the obvious, just because we pay selective attention. Check out your personal selective attention by watching this short video clip:


Is there something we can learn from this experience and should consider when doing a presentation?

If you missed the gorilla this was most probably because you were focused on other tasks. Due to selective attention or inattentional blindness we notice far less of our visual world than we think.

“When you’re looking for a gorilla, you often miss other unexpected events.”

Just replace the word “gorilla” in this quote with “animation” and compare it with a presentation. When somebody is bombarding you with fancy animations you will pay attention most likely to the animation and not on the more important content (like the presenters narration and body language for instance), which results in inefficient communication. Everyone has a certain amount of attention to give and it is up on the presenter to use this attention wisely. As a presenter you can help your audience tremendously by simply not distracting them. Try to use animations sparingly and focus on the content instead.

Source: The monkey business illusion by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons (http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com)


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