Science says we can’t multitask…
So, Stop making your customers multitask during your presentation. Are you the kind of person who texts and watches TV at the same time? No judgment, but if you do, ever notice that sometimes you have no idea what’s going on in the show, cause you’re busy reading a text? And then you have to either rewind or look at the person next to you to try to figure out what happened? That’s because humans can’t multitask.
We think we can multitask, but we actually can’t. Some people are better at splitting attention between two things. Others are better at shifting attention from one thing to another very quickly. But we physically cannot take a hundred percent of our attention and put it on two things at the same time. It just doesn’t work.
…yet, we ask our audiences to multitask
Yet, we ask our prospects to do this during presentations all the time. Whenever there’s content on the slide that you’re not actually addressing -the audience doesn’t know, are they supposed to listen or are they supposed to read? Because they can’t do both.
This tends to happen during the first 10 minutes of a presentation when the presenter is kind of flying through maybe background about the company or the NASCAR slide or industry background, the stuff that we go through really quickly- we usually don’t address every single point on the slide. So the rule of thumb on this, if it’s on the slide, you have to read it. You have to guide the audience so they know they’re supposed to listen and read at the same time because they can’t split their attention.
In the words of Daniel Khaneman, father of behavioral economics: “the often used phrase ‘pay attention’ is apt: you dispose of a limited budget of attention that you can allocate to activities, and if you try to go beyond your budget, you will fail.
It is the mark of effortful activities that they interfere with each other, which is why it is difficult or possible to conduct several at once. So my advice to any presenter with content is make the content easy to follow. But if it’s on the slide, you have to read it. And if it’s content you can’t read and it’s on the slide, probably get rid of it- maybe leave it in a leave-behind deck, but you shouldn’t use it when you’re in front of an audience.