(This blog is a 13th in a 15 part series titled ‘Definitive Guide to Making Killer Sales Presentations’. Sign-up now to be the first to receive the full-fledged guide.)
We all get bored. More so during presentations where the presenter is just drone on about how his ideas are going to change the world giving rise to the phrase ‘death-by-powerpoint’. Although I feel this phrase unfairly puts the blame on the presentation software whereas using similar presentation softwares, Steve Jobs could spellbound his audience for hours. So is it really the presentation software’s fault? Or the presenter’s?
Images courtesy: theeurekagames.com
According to a recent research published on finding how our brain decides to pay attention using student-teacher interaction as test environment, it has been found that some of the techniques which teachers have mastered while teaching students tap into understanding of how human brain functions. For example, using a fun activity as a break in order to bring back students’ attention to the class or scheduling more individual attention subjects like Math in the beginning of the day followed by more social, less precision required subjects like art, group projects later in the day. Other skill which teachers have mastered is turning a routine learning activity into a game to make it interesting like using a boring subject like Math and converting the learning into a number game can capture students’ attention and aid in learning.
Attention graph with time goes something like this:
Most important takeaway: have breaks every 10-15 minutes.
So what should the presenter do to keep the audience engaged?
An average audience as we learn in above point in this article cannot pay attention for more than 10 minutes at a stretch. So after 10 minutes of continuous information overload on the audience’s brain, it is important to energize the audience so they don’t go to sleep either mentally or physically.
To ensure this, it is required to constantly engage and energize the audience from time to time, asking questions, doing activities etc to keep the mind and keep the body active respectively. No wonder, it has been scientifically proven that exercise improves cognitive abilities in young and old alike. Below we can see the effect of exercise on the HAP and LAP (variables in the measure of cognitive capabilities) which both show an increased capabilities irrespective of age).
Another study shows that upto 60 minutes of exercise facilitates specific parts of the brain’s information processing capabilities. Such physical movement increases heart rate, improves blood flow, which brings more oxygen to our brain thus improving overall concentration.
At Google, our teams used to conduct brand workshops for our top clients. The entire idea being to bring stakeholders from different teams together in one room with no cellphones or laptops, nothing to distract and then take this set of people through a design sprint to answer some key brand challenges for the client. The end deliverable of this ‘brand-cum-design hackathon’ was to come up with 2-3 big ideas on how to solve the pre-agreed upon brand challenges that the client is facing.
There would usually be two people from Google conducting the workshops and a couple of volunteers and other people from various teams from the client’s and client’s business partner’s end. To avoid making this into a 1-to-many lecture, often we used to play energizer games both for the mind and the body so as to keep things fresh and ensure 100% mental participation from the teams present. Result: great collaboration, ideas flowing left right and center and ultimately happy clients.
A similar thing used to happen at our bi-annual all business teams conferences.
Some of the games we played involved hand-eye-leg coordination, games where one had to have a strong focus on what’s being said in the room and react in a certain way, ‘ice-breaker’ games focused on compelling the participants to talk to each other, some other times it could be just dancing mindlessly to some track for 2 minutes in the middle of the conference just after lunch. It was always tried to keep the energizer activities fresh, fun and engaging.
Watch below an energizer example:
Checkout this pinterest board which is curating some great energizers like the one below: