What 3 Things Does My Audience Need to Learn?

Have you ever walked out of a corporate training session without understanding what the main point of the session was? Have you ever listened to a lecturer’s speech and wondered what exactly he or she was talking about? If so, then the likely culprit was lack of a clear, unifying theme.

Granted, organizing, editing, and compacting dense information into a few key points is not an easy task for the most talented of presenters. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you ask yourself this vital question before diving into the preparatory details of a presentation: “What 3 things does my audience need to take away from this?”

Why limit the number of main points in a presentation? How can you effectively do so? The following information will discuss the answers to these questions.

Why Limit the Number of Main Points?

If you are tasked with presenting a large chunk of information to your audience, then you may wonder why it’s necessary to go through all the effort of organizing your presentation into 3 main points. However, there are at least 3 powerful, scientifically-based reasons to do so:

  • Your listeners will retain important information longer. Studies have shown that humans tend to forget information that is not practical within a short time frame. In addition, listeners tend to forget some 90% of information from a single presentation within a week. One contributing factor to this statistic is “memory overload;” in other words, flooding the audience with a torrent of (unorganized) data. In contrast, when you organize your presentation into distinct subdivisions, or main points, your audience will likely remember key information for a longer period of time.
  • Your listeners will retain more information. Besides the time factor, holding out 3 main points for your audience’s consumption is an excellent strategy to help them retain more information. People will easily remember three things. Three provides a sense of wholeness or completeness. Two is for comparison and four or more are for lists. When you provide only three main points in sequence, it makes it that much easier for your listeners to retain vital details from your presentation.
  • Your listeners won’t “zone out.” Our brain likes to take the path of least resistance. When a presenter is spouting off numbers, data points, and other clusters of information without any organizing principle, our brain does what it’s programmed to do: it switches to an easier track. Thus, presenting information in a way that involves the least amount of concentration from the audience is an important technique to make your delivery effective.

How to Make Your Main Points Stand Out

There are several effective strategies to make your presentation’s main points stand out clearly for your listeners. For instance:

  • At the outset of your presentation, provide a simple outline (either visual or verbal) of what will be covered in your speech.
  • Periodically repeat the theme of your presentation, and how it relates to the main point under discussion.
  • Organize your information in a logical manner. As an example, if you are an estate lawyer talking to clients about the importance of having a will, start with a challenging story, perhaps about a client whose relative did not have a will and had to go through an expensive court process. Drive your narrative home to its logical conclusion by discussing the benefits of preparing a will in advance.
  • Always review the main points of your presentation in your conclusion.

In line with the above advice, let’s summarize this article in one sentence: If you ask yourself what 3 things your audience needs to learn from your presentation, and structure it accordingly, then it will be much more effective and memorable.

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