Forget the 99% – it’s the 10% that’s critical

Sorry if the title is misleading, but this is not a social commentary on the Occupy movement. But with all the discussion over the last few years about the 99 percent, I wanted raise a different, but incredibly important insight that’s relevant to anyone who needs to deliver a message.

This week, I attended a workshop held by the geniuses at Rexi Media, a consultancy focused on not only the science behind giving meaningful presentations, but also what spurs us to actually remember them. Based on current research in the cognitive psychology and neurobiology fields, the Rexi team has built an approach to presentation creation and delivery that capitalizes on the way the brain operates. The first step to that approach, however, is a doozy.

Audiences on average only remember 10 percent of what you deliver in a presentation.

At first blush, that statistic was not surprising to me. We all have a sense (and probably some personal experience) that tell us that a lot of content doesn’t “stick” to our audience. But the implications of this insight should drive the way that we create and deliver our presentations much more than I’m seeing today.

Think about a presentation that you’ve delivered recently. What was the 10 percent that you were trying to convey? If you asked one of the members of the audience, do you think they’d repeat back that same message back to you? Sadly, the chances are that the answer is “no.” But it certainly does not have to be that way.

So often, we’re trapped in the mindset of creating presentations quickly and pulling from content we already have or slides we’ve already built, just changing the “talk track” depending on who we’re speaking to. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but unless we’re crystal clear about the core message we’re trying to convey, we don’t stand a chance in making it memorable to our audience. And the chances are, if we’re copying and pasting, we’re not making that message clear to those on the receiving end.

The truth is that competition for our attention at any given moment is growing. To get an audience to remember your product, organization or message, you must capture and maintain their attention first. Rexi Media is an incredible resource for best practices and science-proven methods to achieve that goal – and I’ll never look at PowerPoint the same way again.