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Carmen Taran at the Presentation Summit 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
posted by Geetesh on 10:00 AM IST





After Nigel Holmes' morning session, the next keynote was conducted by Carmen Taran, who spoke about the power of remembrance.

Carmen 01

Carmen emphasized that it's important to understand what your audiences remember, because audiences can only act upon what they recollect. During several past sessions, Carmen has asked her audiences about which of her slides they remember. And results can depend on various factors.

Based on her psychology background, Carmen opined that audiences seem to remember the opening or closing slides in a presentation the most. They also distinctly remember something that is out of the ordinary. Holding attention is key to remembrance, and Carmen provided an analogy when she compared holding attention to the concept of an American supermarket where 50,000 products vie for your attention at any given time. And the typical shopping trip may be just 30 minutes long!

Attention is mandatory to memory. And statistics can make you feel the pain, face the reality, and understand the facts better. Whatever may be the case, we live in a world where an accessory can cost more than the product itself. Some iPad cases for instance retail at over 1500 dollars and even more. These accessories sell because people will remember that someone had a very expensive accessory, even if this certainly overestimates capabilities.

Carmen 03

On to another aspect altogether, Carmen asked the audience to ponder over this question: What kills the beginning of a training session? Is it the giving away of long handouts? Or a long self-introduction of the speaker? Or even a boring slide that distracts the audience's attention?

She asked the audience about good presentation titles. And questions often make good titles -- audience members gave these suggestions:

  • So why do voice-overs?
  • Hungry after Chinese food?
  • Saving private clients?

Carmen added: He who has the best story wins. Someone in audience said that when he is presenting, he has the privilege of an audience.

Carmen provided several amazing quotes:

  • Also do not treat your endings lightly.
  • Sometimes you do not have to say anything -- just a picture can make an impact.
  • Include a great message at the ending and you increase the longevity of your audience's remembrance.

More thoughts from Carmen -- the words may not be exactly what she quoted, but what I thought she said:

  • Repetition does not lead to memory. But people do remember something that is not cliche, or is different.
  • Audiences also remember dramatic shifts in the sequence of slides.
  • Sharp contrast between slides, and not gradual change is what people remember.
  • Bizarreness is a trait that you can attach to your visuals to make remembrance more dramatic. The more bizarre the pictures are, the better the remembrance.
  • Even though you want bizarreness, the images you use must be original and familiar. This is important to the brain since original and familiar stuff gets encoded easily within the brain. It also has a quicker retrieval rate.

Carmen 02

She then gave the audience 4 minutes to ask as many people within the audience their names, and remember those names. One of the audience members remembered 6 names.

We still had a few minutes left -- and Carmen said that other than distinctiveness, the quality that brings forth remembrance is emotion. Emotion causes both desire and pleasure. Also emotion can be both positive and negative. Generally, including negative emotions in a presentation leads to more detailed memories while positive emotions are prone to more errors. Carmen cautions us that if gist-based memory is sufficient, then pictures or words associated with positive emotions are appropriate.

Carmen 05



Carmen TaranDr. Carmen Taran's presentations and workshops help business professionals to use communication and presentation skills to increase revenue, train or motivate others, and overall to stand out from too much sameness in the industry. A published author, Dr. Taran is frequently invited as a keynote speaker at various conferences. She is co-founder of Rexi Media, a company that helps business professionals from all fields improve their presentation skills, whether they deliver content face-to-face, online, or create ondemand presentations. To learn more, visit the Rexi Media site.

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