Whether a presentation is meant to inform or convince, the audience wont get much out of it unless the content is memorable enough to stay with them.
Memory is a slippery fish. Sometimes we try to remember, and fail. Sometimes we’d love to discard information, but just can’t seem to shake it free from our memory. What makes some events and information more memorable than others? And more importantly for presenters, how can even the most dry subject material become memorable?
Everyone remembers where they were when they saw the footage of the World Trade Center attack; the image exists, ready to be recalled at the mere mention of the event. The vows of a spouse may, likewise, be happily burned into our memories along side the emotions they produced. We may also be able to recall nearly word for word, some of our favorite childhood stories.
People as far back as the early Egyptians noted the difference that images, emotion and narrative had on solidifying events and information into concrete memories.
Based on these first realizations, philosophers, orators and men of science throughout the ages went to work to understand memory: how it works, how to improve it, and how to appeal to it. Overtime, some of the most influential minds of history took up the study. Greats like Aristotle and Cicero wrote at length regarding their thoughts and findings about memory and how to affect it. Some of the earliest works date back as far as 400BCE. Now collectively referred to as the Art of Memory, the main principles can be divided into three main buckets: Visual, Emotional, and Organizational.
An image, seen again, brings to mind the associated information. Information that made us feel happy, sad or scared, gets a special place in our memory. Information that was organized into a linear storyline of cause and effect helps the brain build causal bridges between the events, helping to tie the memories together.
How can these main principles be harnessed to improve your presentations and your audiences engagement and recall? The following three posts will explore the principles of the Art of Memory, and how to use them to insure your presentations make your information as memorable as possible.