The Results Are In: How Much Do People Really Remember from PowerPoint Presentations?

The Results Are In: How Much Do People Really Remember from PowerPoint Presentations?
February 12, 2013
results-what-people-remember-from-powerpoint-presentationsI recently completed a study that examined the intersection of cognitive psychology, communication, and commerce from the perspective of one tool: PowerPoint. 

I chose PowerPoint because most business professionals and academicians use PowerPoint for presentation design. Although the tool is ubiquitous, many of the presentations made with the tool are often marked by too much similarity, making it difficult for messages to stand out. 

So, I designed the study to answer the question, How many slides do people really remember, on average, from a text-only, standalone online PowerPoint presentation containing 20 slides? 1,540 subjects participated in the study.

Here’s a summary of the results:

  1. Participants remembered an average of 4 slides from a 20-slide, standalone, text-only PowerPoint presentation. 

  1. There was a statistically significant difference between the recall of content in text-only slides versus slides that contained text and neutral visuals. However, the recall rate did not exceed 4 slides in any of the 26 PowerPoint deck manipulations.

  1. People tended to remember similar slides (not random slides, as predicted), which may suggest that there is hope in being able to control not only how much people remember, but what they remember.   

  1. However, when a change was made every 5th position (i.e., slides 5, 10, 15, and 20), those slides tended to be remembered better than any other randomly selected slides from that deck. The reverse was true for slides changed in every 3rd and 4th position.  

These findings can be linked to practical and immediately transferable guidelines for anyone who creates on-demand presentations.

View the webinar replay to learn more about the findings.

Download the white paper for additional details and guidelines for creating on-demand content.

Check out the Rexi Media Workshop, “The 5th element,” which explains how these findings can impact what and how much your audience remembers from your presentations.

Download the White Paper