Slides that Don’t Make Sense
Most presentations disengage the audience. Bullet points give away too much; the audience feel no need to stay engaged to find out what ‘happens next’. Visual cognitive dissonance is a technique m62 use to make the audience want to know what happens next. Dissonance is a mental state of conflict or incompleteness; visual cognitive dissonance presents something visually that doesn’t seem to make sense at first glance. The audience look again – they want to work out what they are being shown. Surrealist art, jigsaw puzzles, or m62 slides.
Visual Cognitive Dissonance is a technique m62 use to counter the effect of Death By PowerPoint.
When presented with visual information, the audience block out the presenter while they assimilate the information. There are four possible outcomes from this process:
- I don’t understand this
- I understand this and I strongly agree
- I understand this and I strongly disagree
- Yes. So what?
The first 3 outcomes are useful to the presenter and the last is a predictor of boredom. Finding content that polarises audience opinion (options 2 and 3) is difficult and dangerous. Which leaves us with the first one, “I don’t understand this”.
At m62 we have designed over 6500 presentations and in excess of 225,000 PowerPoint slides and the one thing they have in common is that they do not make complete sense until the presenter either builds or explains them. This is Visual Cognitive Dissonance in practice.
Visual Cognitive Dissonance is a way of arousing the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in the brain, it compels the audience to engage with the presenter, which lets face it is a good start for a presentation.
6 Comments to Slides that Don’t Make Sense
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Brian Fenix, Client Principal, Hewlett-Packard
Staff within the university are now using a lot of the slides m62 produced in their internal communications to wider audiences. This is a real advantage that we received from m62: we didn’t just get the initial impact, but we also got collateral material we could reuse in multiple other scenarios.