A classic: I am introduced to new people “Nice to meet you I’am….”, smiles, handshakes. raise my gaze and I think: “What’s his name? Ouch, every time!”.

I feel beyond hope, but I am not the only one. It is fairly common to forget people’s names, and there’s a scientific reason behind. Better, there’s more than one, mainly because it’s difficult to create associations to a name that help (the associations) us remember it (the name). This is known as the baker’s theory that stretches up to the baker’s paradox. Our brain works with an associative system. If we meet Frank Thimbs (made up name for the sake of the example) and he tells us he’s an A320 pilot, his job raises a lot of mental images: travelling, sky, uniform, away from home, a fascinating life, risks, “this is your captain speaking”, and more that can vary from person to person. Frank Thimbs has not that power. Thus it’s easier that after a little while we remember his job rather than his name, thanks to the associations our brain made at the time of meeting him.

It’s the same type of brain that looks at your visual aids during your presentations. Ask yourself: what can I do to make my slides more memorable? Which associations can I raise so that the public will retain my information longer?

How can I avoid that what I am saying will be soon forgotten as people’s names?

There is not a single answer, and it doesn’t have to do only with visual aids, but public speaking in general. One of the reason for storytelling to be so recommendable during presentation is this one. Stories are interesting and we tend to remember them because of the associations (places, characters, emotions, …).

Slides with text only, maybe colourless, aren’t mnemonic, therefore it’s easy to forget them as people’s names. And the concept they represent forgotten along with them. You don’t have to replace every text with graphics, but maybe you can side them. Possibly with an association evoking, delivery.

It’s my advice to you. It’s Paolo Pelloni’s advice. Pelloni that in English would sound “Bigskin”, like Stefano Pelloni the brigand or the TV star Raffaella Carrà (real name Pelloni).

 

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