How Much Do People Remember From Your Presentations?

All too often, I’m afraid the answer to that question is “Not much.”

Whether you’re giving a virtual presentation, an informal seated presentation to a small group, or standing up in front of a large audience, you might be shocked at how little information your audience retains over time.

Part of the reason for this is that everyone is overwhelmed by information every day.

How many emails, messages, texts, phone calls, etc. do you get during a typical workday? I bet the number is quite large. And all that information is competing for brain space.

So how do we get folks to retain what we say? How can we get them to at least remember key ideas, concepts, or actions we’re asking them to take?

Below are a few tips on making your next presentation stick.

  1. People remember emotionally evocative stories more than facts.
    Think about movies you’ve seen, books you’ve read, or presentations you’ve heard. I bet stories that evoked some degree of emotion stand out best.

    Stories are a powerful way to engage not just the logical part of people’s brains, but the emotional part too.

    Even the most technical presentations can be transformed into engaging narratives by talking about how the data will affect your audience, make their business prosper, and change or even save lives.

  2. Images are more powerful than words and raw data.
    Ever sit through a presentation with lots of slides full of too many words or too much data? After being fed slide after slide of that stuff, how much of it did you remember?

    Instead of presenting raw data or stuffing slides full of copy, use visuals to make your point more persuasively.

    Turn your data into a simple graph with a compelling header (not just a description of the data)—or use an illustrative photo or graphic.

    The use of compelling visuals can make all the difference in terms of your impact on the audience and their ability to remember what you’ve said.

  3. The way you deliver your presentation helps (or hurts) audience focus.
    You can put me to sleep, make me want to look at my phone, or you can use your passion and energy to engage me and make me want to pay attention.

    If you’re dull in your delivery, if your voice is flat and not conversational, if you don’t communicate a great sense of interest yourself in the information you’re presenting, it will be hard for anyone else to get interested either.

    You don’t have to go over the top or be theatric about it. You just need to exude energy in the way you move (if standing up), gesture, and use your voice. And, depending on the cultural habits of the audience, use eye contact appropriately to connect with them.

Try some of these tips out the next time you give a presentation.

If you do, your audience will be more engaged and will remember more of what you said over a longer period of time—guaranteed!

You may also be interested in…

Want to learn more about the art and science of business storytelling? Read the blog How Storytelling Makes Your Presentation More Influential. Or read all of our Storytelling Blogs. Unlock the secrets of great storytelling with advice from Hollywood screenwriters and even Heads of State.

Picture of Steve Mandel

Steve Mandel

Steve founded Mandel Communications in 1983. He is a renowned presentation skills trainer and coach and the author of the highly successful book Effective Presentation Skills. In addition to serving as a key Mandel company executive, Steve thrives on working directly with clients in one-on-one coaching and group workshop settings. He has a deep understanding of the communication challenges faced by professionals and executives in high-stakes settings and works with clients to pinpoint and address mission-critical communication needs. Steve's business success and his avocation as an accomplished amateur astrophotographer have earned him special recognition in Forbes magazine.
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