Brain Spikes at User Group Meetings

Brain Spikes at User Group Meetings
June 14, 2012

We just finished the Brainshark User Group meetings for the first half of the year (see map). It was an amazing tour where we met hundreds of Brainshark authors and shared lots of presentations. Planning for the fall series is underway and we will announce the schedule in July. The H2 tour will include going back to 6 cities plus 7 new locations with a combination of workshops, User Groups, and the Stories That Sell Tour.

The common theme that ran through every User Group, regardless of whether the participants were beginners or experienced Brainshark authors, was how to make better presentations. During the 5-month tour, we worked on a concept called “BrainSpikes” and would like to share out latest thinking.

Brainshark’s best practices recommend the audio for any slide not exceed 30 seconds. When recording, it is much easier to re-record 30 seconds if you make a mistake and, from the viewer’s perspective, having the slide change at least every 30 seconds keeps them engaged. But is a change every 30 seconds enough to keep the viewer engaged?

Take a look at any TV commercial. You’ll find that there is a visual edit or change in audio just about every 1-2 seconds. We are not saying your Brainshark’s need to be that hyper, but how much change do you need in order to make your presentations more engaging? For business communications, we believe there should be some sort stimulus or BrainSpike every 10 or so seconds. If the average customer-created Brainshark presentation is 12 slides with 16 minutes of audio, that translates into a lot of spikes. The good news is that there are many ways to spike your Brainshark presentation – some being more impactful than others.

Click on the image to get the true story of this x-ray. 

Some impact             

The change from slide to slide, basic animations, addition of background audio for key slides, and rotating text heavy and graphically rich slides.

More impact            

A different presenter’s voice either mid-slide or when a slide changes, adding video or complex animations.

Most impact:

Adding interactive elements such as a test/poll/evaluation, a URL slide in which the viewer interacts with a web page, or a document slide (i.e. PDF, Excel or Word) that pauses when the audio for that slide is done, and the viewer has to press play to continue. 

We generally suggest a spike in each or every other slide, but the key is to avoid predictability, which causes the brain to tune out. So, if each slide has the same animation effect, the impact of that spike is minimized.

Across all presentation types and lengths, the average viewer watches about 65% of your presentation. If you incorporate spikes and add an interactive element every 4-5 slides, the retention rate, or how long your viewers stays with the presentation should increase. Of course, as the commercials say, your mileage will vary based on a wide range of considerations including length of presentation, whether it’s being watched on a PC in the office or a Smartphone, and what the function of the presentation is (marketing, training, corporate communications, etc). The best way to determine how long someone is viewing your presentation is through the Viewer Retention Report which is standard with an Enterprise license.

There are two ways of determining if your presentation has the right balance of engagement. For your PowerPoint slides, Carmen Taran from RexiMedia, our Presentation Revolution keynote presenter, suggests the Slide Sorter mode to see if there is enough variety. For your Brainshark presentations, go to Edit Presentation and choose Manage Slides to determine if there is enough of a balance of interactive elements. In Manage Slides, you can see a blue star for slides with animations, and types of slides (web page, documents, questions, etc).

If you would like us to analyze your presentation, please submit it to our Customer Success team to our Presentation Feedback form. Within 2-3 business days and at no cost, we will provide you with feedback and suggestions to improve your presentation.