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On-Camera Coach by Karin M. Reed

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CHAPTER 8 Organizing for the Ear

1Humans are terrible listeners. That simple fact should serve as your primary guide for how much information you try to convey in a presentation on camera.

Don't just take my word for it. Consider research done at Babson College, which looked into how much information an audience can retain after watching television news. On average, viewers who just watched and listened to the evening news could only recall 17.2 percent of the content when not cued, and the cued group never exceeded 25 percent.1

You may want to include every single detail you can about your topic. After all, you want your viewers to get their money's worth. However, just like drinking from a fire hose can't quench your thirst, too much information can easily turn into information overload.

If you can only expect your audience to retain 25 percent of what you say (and that's on a good day), you need to draw their attention to what you want them to remember most. You can do this by giving your viewers a mental framework in which to categorize your content. Organizing for the ear makes it easier for your audience to pick out and retain the most valuable takeaways.

The Rule of Three

One of the oldest tricks for increasing the odds that your audience will remember what you've said is to follow the Rule of Three. This technique has its roots in Aristotle's Rhetoric but has been adopted, adapted, and applied to everything from advertising to standup comedy. Its power is based on pattern ...

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