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Volume 5, Issue 13

3 Tricks to Make Presentations More Memorable

What makes a presentation memorable isn't the speaker's jokes or clever opening story—it's how the information is embedded in listeners' minds, writes a psychology expert.

Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, recently explored compelling presentations in the Harvard Business Review. According to Markman, author of several books on leadership and change, speakers should keep in mind these three principles about the way our brains process information.

  • Put the key facts up front. Humans remember best the first item presented in a sequence, followed by the last item; the middle is the least well remembered. "One advantage of the often-used strategy, ‘tell people what you're going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them' is that you provide an overview of the key points of the presentation in the two positions in which the audience is most likely to remember them," he writes.
  • Make connections. Presenters should link the key ideas in their presentation, Markman suggests. Tying together different concepts from the presentation helps listeners remember more.
  • Challenge listeners. "The more deeply that your audience thinks about the points you make, the more likely they are to remember what you told them later," Markman writes. This doesn't mean delivering a confusing talk. He suggests asking the audience questions and having participants make bets about which answer they think is right or calling on listeners to summarize information.

Remember not to make presentations too polished, says Markman. He calls this the "TED Talk paradox." "My experience is that colleagues will remember that they saw a particular TED Talk without remembering any of the content of that talk later because the talks are so fluently delivered," he writes.

This article is from the Advancement Weekly, Sept. 28, 2015 issue.

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