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.

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.

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.


Presented’s services aren’t just presentation design. What we do isn’t only 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 nail the presentation structure and the key message 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 effective it is.  (And it’s perhaps the only format to consciously take Mayer’s multimedia learning principles into account. More neuroscience in action with presentations!)


Why use the Beyond Bullet Points presentation structure?

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 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. The number 3 is a golden number of key messages to make. If you can break your call to action down into 3 proof points, you’ll be on your way to making a scientifically strong presentation structure.

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. How you phrase the copy is important: conversational language, as well as using the same grammatical tense leads to a more coherent message.

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, you’ll survive…