5 Proven Scientific Principles Presenters Need To Know In Business

Whether you are using Powerpoint, Prezi or Canva to deliver a presentation, the fundamentals of effective communication remain the same.  

To become a great presenter requires years of practice, however as with so many art-forms, there is an innumerable number of scientific principles that govern them.

Below is a list of fundamental rules you need to understand about presenting.

1.  Humans Can't Read And Listen At The Same Time

Nope, not a single one of us.  Sure we can cycle back and forth between reading and listening, however we are unable to do this simultaneously.  This is why one of the cardinal sins of presenting is text heavy slides.  To avoid this, you should try to support your message with images rather than text.

2. 65% Of Humans Are Visual Learners

We've all heard stat on how 80% of communication is visual, however what is less well known is the amount of humans who's most effective method of learning is visually.  65% of humans learn things most effectively when the information comes through their eyes.  As such, if your presentation matters, you need to acknowledge this and invest heavily in incorporating images and multimedia that support your narrative.

3. Systematic vs Heuristic Message Processing

Not all people process the same message the same way, and this largely comes down to how important they deem the presentation to be.  Systematic processing occurs when the audience has a high motivation and ability to process what is being said (IE: A presentation a new pay incentive).  In this case, you can assume your audience with use logic and reason to assess your message.  

An audience will utilise heuristic processing to assess your message in instances where they perceive their to be limited value in what you are presenting, or their ability to understand the message is limited.  In such instances, superficial elements such as the professionalism of the slides, branding and what you are wearing will play a more important factor.

4.  Two Way Communication Is More Effective Than One Way

Rather than take you through the ins and outs of why this is the case, take it to the bank that a presentation that requires some degree of audience interaction or participation will be more effective than a lecture.  This can take the form of traditional audience interaction, but can also involve asking the audience members to internalise their answers.  Another common way speakers use this principle is by putting forward a thought experiment or quiz that tests the audience’s subject matter knowledge.

5.   Authority Matters

Whether the audience is processing your message systematically or heuristically, your ability to convey authority (or expertise) is fundamentally important.   People’s willingness to take at face value what you are saying is directly proportional to how credible they feel you are as a source.

Authority can be conveyed via a number of means and very much depends on the audience.  A scientist may wish to use their academic credentials, whereas in business this may not be effective.  A business leader looking to persuade an audience may refer to their previous positions in similar companies they worked in or list their achievements.  

The form this takes is very much industry specific however it is extremely important that before you attempt to convey your message, you ensure you communicate with your audience you have the authority to do so.