Useful Research for Presentations


There are two information-processing channels that we use: visual and verbal. We can only process so much information through these channels at a given time. Learning requires substantial processing, so understanding how to balance information to these channels is critical for a successful presentation. 

Idea sourced from Richard E. Mayer & Roxana Moreno, "Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning"


Research shows that people understand a multimedia presentation better when pictures are accompanied by narration, rather than by text on a slide. This suggests presenters may be more successful using highly visual slides and communicating the information verbally, rather than by reading written text on a slide.

Idea sourced from Richard E. Mayer & Roxana Moreno, "Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning"


It's generally accepted that we can hold three to four chunks of information in our working memories at a time. Having no more than three to four main sections for our talks will better resonate with the audience's working memory capacity.

Sourced from Cliff Atkinson's book “Beyond Bullet Points,” with supporting research from Dr. Nelson Cowan


"Distributed learning, in certain situations, can double the amount we remember later on. This means when possible, spacing out the amount of information we give to audiences, rather than fitting it in one class or session, will help our audience learn the information."

Quote from Benedict Carey, How We Learn


"If information is presented orally, people remember about 10%, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture."

So, pictures are a powerful memory tool.

Quote from John Medina, Brain Rules


In case you weren't convinced by number 5, with study your recall of pictures increases over time, while your recall of words actually declines.

Idea sourced from Benedict Carey, How We Learn


We perform best when we're in an environment similar to the one where we prepared or studied. So, practicing a presentation in a way that mimics the actual event could help boost performance for the presentation.

Idea sourced from Benedict Carey, How We Learn


Just like facing any other fear, it matters how we control our anxiety and stress prior to giving a talk. While some stress can improve performance, too much will be detrimental to a presentation. Try to use breathing and meditative exercises whenever you feel nervous or anxious about an upcoming talk.


We process images on a different channel. When we use images, it’s like opening up another lane of traffic during a traffic jam – if that traffic jam existed in our brains. We learn more deeply from images and words, rather than from words alone.

These principles are supported by research by Dr. John Sweller, UNSW Sydney, and Dr. Richard Mayer, UC Santa Barbara


We have to be aware of speed when we present to ensure that our audience will be able to process that information in a meaningful way. The average adult person reads at about 300 words per minute (wpm). They surveyed TED speakers and found they speak at about 163 wpm.

Idea sources from Public Speaking Power