Thursday, 8 October 2009

Think 5% for real focus or you'll be wasting your time

In retention and memory studies conducted by professional psychologists, (too dulll and detailed to be listed here) in esteemed places of learning they've learned a few really interesting things about the pointlessness of presenting too much information.  Here are a few highlights-

If you spoon-feed facts and figures to an audience for 20 minutes non-stop, and test them 24hours later to see how much they've remembered, in the best cases less than 5% of everything you told them will be remembered.
  • That memory will dwindle down to almost zero over the next 72 hours.
  • So if I talk to you on Monday at 9am, you'll have forgotten 99% of what I said by friday morning even if I'm a brilliant and entertaining speaker.  If I'm Bob from IT you'll recall much less than that.
So why bother with so many presentations?  Well humans are great at remembering broad messages that are relevant to them.  If the speaker manages to tell us something that's relevant to us, in a way that makes it easy for us to remember, and doesn't swamp us with detail- guess what?  We'll never forget.

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