Introduction | Message | Audience | Structure | Physical Aspects | Psychological Aspects


Analysis | 7 chunks | The golden thread | Content quality

7 chunks

George A. Miller has provided a theoretical idea that is fundamental to cognitive psychology and the information processing framework. This idea also is of particular importance for the structuring of a presentation and should therefore be considered when preparing a presentation. Miller presented the idea that short-term memory could only hold 7 ± 2 chunks of information, where a chunk is any meaningful unit. The concept of chunking and the limited capacity of short term memory became a basic element of all subsequent theories of memory.(11)

Even though this chunking model refers to the short term memory, it can as well help you with your presentation, because the easier you can process information in your short memory, the easier it will get to move this information to your long term memory. In a presentation you should therefore consider grouping your information into 6 coherent chunks of information – as the average brain can process 6 chunks. Doing that you facilitate the audience the memorisation of the information you give and secure that they take as much information home with them as they can.

Keep in mind that also the connection of those chunks should be coherent (e.g. connecting them with a story; memory bridge, …) in order to facilitate memorization.

Key message

The key message is very tightly knit with the analyses one should do prior to preparation. When you want to prepare a workshop, speech, etc. you should be very aware about what you want to say. Only when being certain about this question, you can prepare a presentation target oriented. You have a point to make – whether to educate, discuss, promote or advocate.(9) Within every text (oral and written), key message is the message you want your audience to remember and react to; it is ‘The Message’, the essence. Within all your preparation of a performance, having the key message will keep the elaboration of your presentation in line with what you are trying to accomplish.
Always keep in mind though that a key message is only the essence of what you want to say. That means that the key message should summarize your presentation in one concise sentence.

All about the key message:

  • WHAT do I want to say and what do they want to hear?
  • Can I summarize the key message in one sentence?
  • Do I digress too much from the topic with what I want to say, does it serve the key message?

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(10)Miller, G.A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, vol. 63, pp. 81-97