Teaching Skills: audience retention

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Tools for Teaching: Introduction

Facilitation Skills: TheĀ art of group facilitation

Teaching and Presentation Skills: Keep these techniques in mind

Tips for Programs: Practical examples and resources

1. Choosing an Overall Organizational Pattern

Audience Retention and the Organization of Your Presentation

What your audience remembers determines whether or not you achieve your presentation objectives, so you need to be aware that certain parts of a presentation are remembered better after the presentation is over. Morrisey, Sechrest and Warman describe an interesting phenomenon using what they call the audience retention curve (see below).

  • Curiosity will probably produce a reasonably high level of both attention and retention during your opening (A).
  • Following your opening, you can expect a reasonably sharp drop in retention (B), even with a good presentation.
  • If you use an appropriate summary statement to tip off your audience that your presentation is coming to a close, the retention curve will take an upward swing (D).

Keeping this retention curve in mind and using your overall organizational approach as a foundation, you can begin to put your ideas together. All presentations, even short ones, need a strong opening, rich body and powerful closing.Ā 



Morrisey, G.L., Sechrest, T.L., & Warman, W.B. (1997). Loud and Clear: How to Prepare and Deliver Effective Business and Technical Presentations. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.