Structure helps retention

Structure helps retention of a message. A presentation is never a data download. It is simply not possible for an audience to retain large volumes of data delivered through a presentation. To think otherwise is both naive and in denial of large quantities of psychological science. As well as lots of personal experience. It is possible however for an audience to take information away from a presentation but that is dependent upon the nature of delivery. A memorable structure will help. The audience can re-build the presentation later from this structure and upon that information may be reconstructed.

No audience memorises a presentation. It is to be hoped no presenter memorises a presentation either. Structure, however, allows for recollection of information, retrieved or rebuilt to fit the understanding received during the presentation. That structure is best if implicit but even explicit and practised structures will allow the audience, if engaged, to retrieve the information at a point in the future. Exactly the structure or technique used is a combination of personal insight, wisdom, creativity and perhaps even luck. There is no one single way. Ultimately, if it works, then it is effective, no matter whether it is cheesy, cliched or frequently used.

There is an unexplained magic in the number three, Whether that is three words; “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, three entities; “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” or three parts of a presentation (p1,p2 and p3). Since Aristotle, the use of three steps within a presentation has been shown to be very effective. This may be set up as- the issue, the possible solutions and the answer. Challenging the audience at the beginning with their need pulls them into the presentation to follow and find an answer to this. This simple structure engages an audience.

structure helps retentionAcronyms rarely seem effective. They seem memorable to those constructing them but are frequently lost in both the mists of time and the multiplicity offered. What seems clearly singular in construction seldom is. Alliteration also adds awful aims. Things are usually so forced that they don’t don’t flow as was hoped for in construction. Top 10 is no more memorable than the Top10 Christmas No1s; you have to know them to figure any of it out. And all of these leave the simple list of facts sadly miles behind.

Structure helps retention of a message. This must be more than simply a list, acronyms rarely seem effective and alliteration is always awful. Presentation works well with the rule of threes.

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