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Pass the 3-Second Test by Following Advice from Master Chefs

By June 22, 2015January 26th, 2022No Comments
we eat with our eyes - our perception leads us - master chefs prepare pumpkin soup

In the two study’s below, Charles Spence, PhD, Professor of Experimental Psychology, was a co-author. He wrote, “People’s perception is typically dominated by what their eyes see.” As such, when it comes to your presentations, what can we learn from this age-old practice when it comes to your slides/visuals such as pictures, charts, and graphs?

“We eat with our eyes first” is a common phrase from Master Chefs around the world. That is why so many restaurants spend time and money perfecting the presentation of your meal. Think of how much you are impressed when everything entices your senses, perhaps even all of your senses. Make it a “Wow!” first impression.

The smell from the freshly baked bread, the visual beauty of how everything is laid out on your plate, the sizzle of your fajitas, the texture of the moist cupcake, and of course, the expected taste tingling your brain to hurry up and eat already.


Spend as much time as you can to ensure your visuals pass what we call, The 3-Second Test.  Within three seconds, will your audience completely understand and appreciate what you are “trying” to communicate? What’s the first impression? What will be their perception?

This means your slide visuals has these three aspects well covered:

  1. Readable.  Fonts and graphical elements (boxes, circles, tables, pictures, pull quotes, etc.) are easy to read
  2. Understandable.  Easy to understand with one message per slide that supports the main message shared on the cover page, your Better Tomorrow Message™
  3. Appealing.  Use colors to their maximum advantage. Keep in mind the expected color uses of green, yellow, and red and if working with colleagues from around the world, be sensitive to their cultures. Use photographs where you can with minimal text

Next time you are reviewing or designing a slide, ask yourself, “Do I want to know more?”


  1. “Assessing the Influence of the Color of the Plate on the Perception of a Complex Food in a Restaurant Setting” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Agnes Giboreau, and Charles Spence, Flavor Journal
  2. “The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers’ Perception of a Hot Beverage” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence; August 23, 2012, Journal of Sensory Studies

Photography Source:  Pexels
#visuals #presentation #slides #design

Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.