A while back I wrote a post entitled “Look this way, please”. In it, I discussed how you can make the messages in your PowerPoint slides more effective by having people in the pictures “look” at the text.
I recently came across an interesting article by James Breeze, a business psychologist in Sydney, Australia, on the same topic. He has kindly agreed to let me reproduce it here for you.
James has used some pretty nifty eye tracking technology to determine where people look when shown slides containing lots of information. Not surprisingly, we look at people’s faces first and text second. What is interesting, however, is the amount of time we spend looking at the pictures and the text when (a) the picture is looking directly at us and (b) the picture is looking at the text.
You look where they look
by James Breeze
People look at other people’s faces.
In this video I showed that even my 11-month old son looks straight at faces shown to him in Facebook! It is habitual.
Did you know that the images of faces that capture people’s attention can be used to guide people around a website or an ad? I thought it was obvious! However, when I was at ad:tech Sydney 09 … I mentioned it to people, and they were amazed! I realised it was worth posting about it!
Here’s a little experiment with 106 people that I’ve demonstrated the Tobii T60 Eye Tracker to over the last month or so.
The image below is a sample gaze path of one person looking at a baby in a product ad:
The blobs are where the person has fixated on the image. You’ll notice the person starts looking in the middle of the page (we planned it that way by using a fixation cross between each stimuli) and then goes straight to the baby face. He focusses on it a few times then moves his attention over to the text by his 7th fixation.
And here’s an image of that same baby looking up and toward the main content heading. Notice the person fixates less on the baby’s face and then he quickly looks straight over to the text at the 5th fixation.
One person you say?
Well, here’s a combined heat map of 106 people looking at the first image. The redder the spot, the more time people looked at it.
There is heaps of focus on the baby’s face and relatively little on the text.
Here’s the same 106 people looking at the second image for the same amount of time. (The images were shown to everyone in a random order on Tobii Studio software running with a Tobii T60 eye tracker).
Notice how many more people are actually reading the text now that the baby is looking at in the above image? Not to mention the increased attention on the brand!
In advertising we will look at what the person we see in an ad is looking at. If they are looking out at us we will simply look back at them and not really anywhere else. Faces can be used to guide a person’s attention to key content and make sure they actually read it.
What are you looking at?
Great stuff, James! And a reminder that with a little thought and effort, we can make our slides much more effective and have our audiences focusing on what we want them to.
For those of you interested in learning more about the psychology of where we look, a great place to start is this article by Les Posen whose blog, Presentation Magic, is full of useful public speaking tricks.