In our blog series on the Brain Rules, we look how John Medina’s brain rules can apply to the best presentation structure and design, and in particular on how we can apply it to the Beyond Bullet Points structure.

Brain Rule 1: Survival

It’s no challenge to apply Medina’s #1 rule to presentation structure and design: “Survival” is all about our ability to solve problems.  Indeed, our brains evolved to learn, to collaborate, and to make progress with others through team work and partnerships. We have an inherent need to get things agreed – and acted upon. So a good presentation structure fits neatly into this need to impart knowledge, learn, and therefore survive.

To quote brain scientist John Medina, “our ability to understand each other is our chief survival tool”. So when presenting to a roomful of brains, you will be perceived as a highly valued individual if you can communicate clearly and with a purpose. Your presentation structure must be understandable and your call to action should be powerful and relevant.

Beyond Bullet Points structure

Brain Rule 1: Survival

Presented’s services aren’t just presentation design. We do more than making slides pretty. We also advise and create powerful presentation structures. Medina’s brain rule proves that there are scientific reasons why it’s essential to use an effective presentation structure and get the right key messages behind your slides.

We most often use Cliff Atkinson’s “Beyond Bullet Points” structure to create a versatile, informative and convincing presentation. Clients have reported back on their success (more sales, more bookings, more sign ups, more interaction) so we’re highly confident about how good it is.  (And it’s perhaps the only format to consciously take Richard E Mayer’s multimedia learning principles into account. More neuroscience in action with presentations!)


Why use the Beyond Bullet Points structure in your presentations?

Firstly, we need to state our call to action near the start. Too many presentations have the call to action at the end. If you’ve lost any attention during your presentation, then hiding the CTA at the end is daft. (Even if it’s a good presentation, you’re still more likely to have lost people’s attention and focus by the end).

Next, we need to repeat our key messages. Within a presentation structure that has crystal clear navigation, everyone is sure about where they are within the presentation. Three is a golden number of key messages to make. If you can break your call to action down into three proof points, you’ll be on your way to making a scientifically strong presentation structure.

Then, gear the main body of your slides to prove or provide evidence of each key message. Your audience will be more likely to believe your messages. And your presentation will stay on track and show purpose. If you have a slide that doesn’t back up one of your key messages: then ditch it. OR, review your key messages as they might not be quite right.

Another important point about applying the Beyond Bullet Points structure is the copy. Use conversational language in your copy. It’s easier to understand and flows more naturally when you present. As well as being conversational, using the same grammatical tense throughout leads to a more coherent message. Give your copy some attention. It wil pay off.

Finally, we need to summarise our call to action and our key messages at the end. Repetition and the use of a conclusion slide helps the recall ability of your audience’s brains. If they have understood you, they will value you.

And then chances are, with the Beyond Bullet Points structure you’ll survive every presentation experience that you have…


Frequently Asked Questions:

Why should I consider using the Beyond Bullet Points structure in my presentations?
Using the Beyond Bullet Points structure ensures your presentations are effective by placing the call to action near the start, repeating key messages for clarity, and providing evidence to support each message. This structure enhances audience engagement and retention, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

How does the Beyond Bullet Points structure differ from traditional presentation formats?
Unlike traditional formats that often bury the call to action at the end and rely heavily on bullet points, the Beyond Bullet Points structure prioritises clarity, repetition of key messages, and conversational language. It encourages a concise yet impactful presentation style that aligns with how our brains process information.

How many key messages should I aim for in a presentation structured with Beyond Bullet Points?
Aim for three key messages in your presentation. Three is considered the golden number for key messages as it allows for clarity and focus. Breaking down your call to action into three points helps create a scientifically strong presentation structure that resonates with the audience.

What role does repetition play in the Beyond Bullet Points structure?
Repetition is key in reinforcing the call to action and key messages throughout the presentation. Summarising the call to action and key messages at the end, along with using a conclusion slide, enhances the audience’s recall ability. This repetition solidifies understanding and underscores the importance of your message.