Your slides shouldn’t make sense

What you are about to read, is without a doubt the best piece of presentation advice out there. So get ready. 

Most presentations disengage the audience. That’s right, most presentations send people to metaphorical sleep.

Bullet points give away too much; the audience feel no need to stay engaged to find out what ‘happens next’. Visual dissonance is a technique Convinced use to make the audience want to know what happens next. Dissonance is a mental state of conflict or incompleteness; visual 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 a Convinced presentation.

Visual Dissonance (VD) is a technique Convinced 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:

  1. I don’t understand this
  2. I understand this and I strongly agree
  3. I understand this and I strongly disagree
  4. 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”.

Convinced designs over 500 presentations annually – and, with excess of 100,000 PowerPoint slides created so far, 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 Dissonance in practice.

Visual 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.

Author avatar
Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson is the Founder & Managing Consultant at Convinced.

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