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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Preparing For a Powerful Delivery

Remember To Repeat

In Chapter Four, we explored the process of building your presentation from the end. Begin with the goal and work your way backward. During your talk or presentation, repeat key points that lead your audience toward your goal.

If your intention is for your audience to take action as a result of your presentation, you’ll need them to retain some information from your presentation for a while after you’ve finished speaking. In order for them to do that, the information must enter their long-term memory. To get into long-term memory, it first has to pass through working memory (formerly known as short-term memory). Unfortunately, information can only reside in working memory for about ten seconds, and then it’s gone.

The brain is always scouring the sensory environment for new input, looking for patterns and trying to predict what’s going to happen next. Because of this, whatever information finds its way into working memory is quickly replaced by new information.

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the exponential nature of the brain’s ability to forget data. His research shows that the speed in which the brain forgets depends on a number of factors, such as the difficulty of the learned material, how the material is represented and such physiological factors as stress and sleep deprivation. His research also shows that one way to galvanize information into long-term memory is through intermittent repetition.

While Ebbinghaus’ studies relate mostly to measuring memory over the course of months or years, the principles hold true on more micro levels as well, such as minutes or days.

So, what’s the lesson? Spaced repetition is like glue that helps information stick in the mind of your audience. Select the primary message of your presentation, and repeat it from time-to-time, to help your audience retain the message and be able to take action when you’ve completed your presentation.

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