Remembering Slides: Conversation with Carmen Simon

Created: Wednesday, December 11, 2013, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am

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Carmen SimonDr. Carmen Simon’s presentations and workshops are unique because she applies a scientific methodology to her coaching. Unlike other approaches, Dr. Simon’s guidelines for outstanding presentations are rooted in cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

In this conversation, Carmen discusses the larger issue of how you can make sure that your audiences remember your slides.

Geetesh: Forgetting the slides we see – you say this is quite akin to other things we do in life such as forgetting what a coin looks like. So how can we make our slides not similar to stuff we forget, and make them more like something we will always remember?

Carmen: The point about the coin is that we, human beings, do not “attend” to everything around us, even to things that we look at daily or use routinely (such as looking at a coin). We look, but we do not see. We tend to remember more reliably those things we pay conscious attention to; it is possible to remember things even when we don’t consciously pay attention to them, but that type of memory is an entire different conversation, and not something that presenters want to use consistently.

If we know that our audiences are prone to looking but not really seeing, then presenters can use techniques that make it impossible to miss elements in presentations. Take text for example: why not make the words that are important really BIG, where you’re forcing people to pay attention, almost despite themselves?



Geetesh: Can you share some thoughts about what slide creators should do to create memorable slides.

Carmen: This question is a grand one, we could cover it in a book. One of the ways to answer what makes something memorable is to ask what makes something forgettable. As you see in the SlideShare, sameness leads to forgetting because sometimes information interferes with other similar information. This is why we must ask: what can I do to deviate from the pattern? For example, if your slides include mostly text, can you insert a graphic? Or the other way around — if you include mostly graphics, can you switch to text? The secret here is that you must have a pattern first before you break it. Unfortunately, most presentations don’t have a pattern. Using templates has an advantage where memory is concerned because they help us establish a pattern, which we can break every time you want to attract attention. Templates work because they habituate an audience to the design and then — bam – you catch them by surprise with something they did not expect. This refreshes attention, which is often a solid ingredient for memory.

For more information about workshops that Dr. Carmen Simon teaches with a unique neuroscience approach, access the Rexi Media page on her workshops

Categories: interviews, opinion, powerpoint, presentation_skills


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