We’ve all been there, the Powerpoint slides come up on the screen and the speaker either 1) Starts reading the slides on the screen or 2) There is so much text on the slide you can not possibly read it all. or 3)The plague of presentations- bullet lists. The lists go on and on and before you know it you are struggling to pay attention. I’m going to invite you to challenge your thinking about presentations.
First, one of the best things I ever learned about presentations was “bullets kill”. Think about presentations with no bullets (or minimal). Second, there is a great deal of research on cognitive load and the use of powerpoint. The basic idea is for a listener to retain content the working memory functions best when there is a balance of listening with less complex images. Talking over complex images overwhelms the brain channels and audiences start reading and stop listening (or stop reading and only listen).
Presenters should make it their goal to manage cognitive load. I recommend the Presentation Zen for an introduction to the cognitive load theory. Learning about cognitive load, working memory, and bullets can overwhelm a presenter. A fun solution to this challenge is Haiku Deck.