In most every business or research presentation you will ever see, I can almost guarantee that you will come face-to-face with a slide that looks like a challenging level of Tetris.

As a company leader, the process of how an idea becomes an initiative at your company is innovative and exciting. As an expert researcher, the method you developed to test your hypothesis and discover your groundbreaking result is critical and valuable. The way many presenters are illustrating these processes, however, confuse audiences – the opposite reaction a presenter hopes to inspire. Think of your presentation attendees like a group of bowling pins. If you are bowling with the wrong type of ball, you will hit the gutter every single time. The medium of message or concept delivery is crucial to knock down all of the pins in front of you.

How to Represent Complex Process Models

First and foremost, the process you plan to present must be understandable to your audience. In your presentation design, the slides are your lanes. Only you can craft clear content and get a strike. According to a recent study published in Business Process Management, 2 factors influence a viewer’s comprehension and retention of a complex process model: modularity and graphic format.

Separate by Process

When we try to remember phone numbers, we go through the same practice. We break down the 10-digit code into groups of 3 or 4 numbers. Chunking is effective in our presentation design techniques as well. A complex process model should be designed on separate slides into distinct parts. By emphasizing each component of the process, you allow your audience time and space to comprehend not only the function of the whole, but also the value of its parts. For example, a presentation designer could dedicate one slide to an overview of the entire model. In the slides that follow, different sections of the process could be designed and showcased – giving the audience a holistic view of your company’s chain of command or your unique research methodology. Use a modular format in your presentation design of complex process models and you’ll be one step closer to victory.

Put it on Paper

For the 60 business consultants to grasp the point of the business model used in the experiment, the display mechanism mattered. While a digital representation that was separated by individual process sections improved comprehension, the message really stuck when they received a paper format of the model. The flattened representation further clarified how one part of the process flowed to the next.

What does this mean for your presentation design?

Maybe it’s time to plan ahead and start distributing a handout or leave-behind piece for your audiences. If the explanation of a particular process is a core component of your presentation, you will want to do everything in your power to simplify the information and encourage audience retention.

The next time you want to include a slide with a convoluted flow chart within your presentation design, listen to the research. Separate the graphic by process and provide additional physical material to facilitate meaningful understanding of your concepts. For more information related to enhancing your presentation design, review the following articles from our archives:

How to Create an Internal Navigation System Within PowerPoint

Presentation Designers as Problem Solvers and Opportunity Searchers

A Presentation Design Debate: Conceptual Versus Literal Images

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