Dr. Susan Weinschenk, author of 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter), explains how to optimize presentations for consumption by humans:
1. People learn best in 20-minute chunks. There must be a reason for the successful TED-sized talk format.
2. Multiple sensory channels compete. During a talk, you engage both the auditory and visual channels — because we’re visual creatures and the visual channel trumps the auditory, make sure your slides don’t require people to read much or otherwise distract from the talk.
3. What you say is only one part of your presentation. Paralinguistics explores how information is communicated beyond words — be aware the audience is responding to your body language and tone. Record yourself presenting to get a feel for those and adjust accordingly.
4. If you want people to act, you have to call them to action. At the end of your presentation, be very specific about exactly what you would like your audience to do.
5. People imitate your emotions and feel your feelings. If you’re passionate about your topic, this excitement will be contagious for the audience. Don’t hold back.