Using Bumper Slides to Organize Your Presentation

You might have heard that our attention spans are decreasing. Or that audience members only listen for the first 10-15 minutes. Surprisingly, there isn’t much solid research to cover general statements like that. However, we do know that our audience members have a lot competing for their attention. So when we stand up to present, we have to work hard. We have to give them organized presentations that are easy to follow.

One way we can accomplish this is through something called bumper slides. Quite frankly, bumper slides are just visual transitions. It’s a slide that cues the audience that we are moving to something new. It could be a slide with a simple colored background and logo. Or it might simply be a black slide with white lettering telling what you’ll be covering next. We know not everyone will want to use bumper slides or use them in the same way. But they can be a simple and helpful trick for some presenters. Here are a couple reasons why you might want to consider using them.

Establish Flow

In his book, Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, Jerry Weissman says, “In a presentation, the audience can access the presenter’s material only in a linear fashion: one slide at a time . . . under the presenter’s control. Once a slide disappears from the screen, it’s gone forever. The audience doesn’t have the opportunity to flip back and forth at will to clarify the presentation’s flow.” For that reason, it’s crucial that we move through our presentations in a way that makes sense to the audience. Listeners won’t stick with you very long if they can’t figure out where you are headed or what your organization is.

But if you put a simple bumper slide on the screen in between main points or sections, it helps the audience follow you. And that one simple slide can communicate a lot. It can help them understand that you’ve finished with this topic. And it gives you a chance to tell them how what you’ve just talked about relates to the next topic you’ll be addressing. It makes the organization, or the flow, of the presentation intentionally visible before you jump back in. This small signal is like a signpost. It allows your audience to locate themselves within the grander context of the presentation.

Grab Attention

Your presentation media screen can be both your biggest support and your biggest distraction. Weissman tells us why. “When the screen lights up with a slide . . . the focus of the audience immediately, and involuntarily, goes to the graphics.” This means you can harness the power of light and movement to capture your audience’s attention in just one simple slide. If the audience has gotten distracted or lost in thought, the bumper slide lights up the screen and pulls them back in.

Chunk Information

Have you ever tried a dance fitness class like Zumba? I have to admit, it’s one of my favorite ways to stay in shape. While other folks can jump on treadmill and run for miles, I just don’t enjoy that. But I love Zumba. And part of the reason is that it gives me small breaks in between songs to stop and catch my breath. I can work harder knowing a short break is coming up.

Bumper slides work like this for presentations. They give the audience those few moments to catch their breath. A transition screen allows them to quickly process what they’ve just heard and to switch over what is coming next. When they start to understand that this pattern will be repeated throughout the presentation, it allows them to focus more intently during each segment. Plus, research has proven over and over again that we learn better when the information is broken up into smaller “chunks.”

So if you are looking for a way to enhance the flow of your presentation, grab the attention of your listeners, and arrange information in a way that makes it easier to process, try using bumper slides in your next presentation.

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