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Why Your Presentations Lack Depth, And What You Can Do About It

Your audience has become numb to PowerPoint. In fact they’re pretty much bored with static slides altogether. They’re spatial learners. They need a sense of context to relate information and ideas based on connections and patterns. They want depth. And if you want your presentations to resonate with your audience, you’d better give it to them.

Think about it. We’re born into a 3D world. If someone asks you to close your eyes and visualize the layout of your living room, that should be relatively easy—the placement of the couch, the television, the coffee table. However, if someone asks you to close your eyes and visualize the first line of the second paragraph of a book you read last week, I’m guessing that would be a lot harder. It’s just the way most of us are wired.

It’s not like PowerPoint didn’t try to add functionality to make presentations more interactive and engaging. Remember those animations and sound effects that for many seemed so cool at the time but quickly became overly distracting? Who am I kidding—I think most people are probably trying to forget. But just because transitions like "fly in" and "float in" and sound effects like "applause" and "camera" were incredibly annoying, doesn’t mean it’s any less important for us to visualize our ideas.

And that’s a point that wasn’t lost on the folks at Prezi, makers of zooming presentation software. "Creating a visual journey lets your audience know where they are and where they’re headed and that helps to create a sense of context" says Peter Arvai, Prezi CEO. "That context adds depth that makes it easier for people to understand ideas and their relationships to each other" he added. What’s most interesting about 3D imaging and other emerging technologies is how they’re changing the way we design and deliver information.

Instead of just throwing static words up on a projector screen, we’re able to use spatial relationships and visual effects to share big ideas and tell powerful stories. By adding visual depth, we finally at a point where we can create truly immersive experiences that will increase the likelihood that our audience will actually comprehend and remember our presentation content. I’d say that’s worthy of an "applause" sound effect, wouldn’t you?

Shawn Graham is a marketing and brand strategist for startups and small businesses. Find Shawn at or continue the conversation on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Michael Porter]

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