Richard Mayer of the University of California, Santa Barbara, explains his research on instructional methods, which promote deep learning and transfer. He considers the question, how can you teach people so that they can take what they have learned and apply it to new situations?

In our business culture are neglecting opportunities to maximize how the human brain functions best when we create videos and presentations.

With that said, I want to focus this post on the teachings of American educational psychologist, Richard Mayer of the University of California Santa Barbara. Dr. Mayer has received numerous awards and has written more than 390 publications including 23 books on education and multimedia. In other words, he knows a thing or two about how the human brain digests and processes information in the context of multimedia stimuli.

Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from his two decades of research on how people learn from multimedia presentations.

 1. The Principle of Continuity

People absorb and retain information better when there is text and images on the screen. You need both elements when creating a video because studies have proven that this approach increases retention by up to 42%. In this case, don’t opt for traditional headers, but aim to keep the text close to the image or concept that is being portrayed. If you help your audience make the connections by utilizing this layout, the higher the probability of your success.

 2. The Principle of Coherence

Humans have a very limited working memory and can only take in limited amounts of information at one time. Therefore, you need to be able to separate the essential from the non-essential for your audience. Only the most important points should make the cut. You need to avoid the temptation to add information, stats, or facts that are not relevant to the audience.

 3. The Principle of Signaling

Remember that your audience doesn’t have the same depth of knowledge as you do regarding your topic. Therefore, it is your responsibility to help connect the dots by creating signals. For instance, it needs to be absolutely clear that A leads to B which leads to C. If the audience isn’t signaled that this is how A connects to B or we are now moving from topic A to B, your message needs to be reevaluated. It is your responsibility to make sure the audience can see the connections in your material.

 4. The Principle of Segmenting

If your material is complicated, don’t forget to “chunk” your information into shorter bursts. For instance, instead of lingering on one shot for 5 minutes, utilize 5 one-minute shots. The shorter the segments, the higher potential for retention.

You need to harness the power of video by applying the principles above to maximize its effectiveness for you and your audience.

This article has been adapted from the original article: How the Brain Processes Visual Communication .

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