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Reviews and Excercises

"A concept is stronger
than a fact."
- Charlotte P. Gillman


listen Listening Roadblocks
As audience members we are bombarded with internal and external stimuli, which cause us to process information incompletely and fleetingly. This is easily seen when we consider certain listening roadblocks that affect information transfer.

Listening Efficiency
Average listening efficiency is about 25 percent. Even if we've acquired some active listening skills, these skills normally cannot be used when we are passive members of the audience in a technical presentation.

Attention Span
The human brain operates in very short discrete moments of time and our attention span is getting shorter. As listeners, we may listen in multiple intervals, but then we'll take a short mental vacation. This shift of attention is a natural listening phenomenon. Speakers cannot assume that the audience is continually listening. So, the best speakers present key ideas in short phrases called sound bites that help audiences listen to, and remember ideas.

Spare Time
While speakers speak at the rate of about 200 words per minute, the human brain can process more than 1,000 words per minute. So audiences have 800 wpm of unused information-processing capability - - or spare time.

Even if we listen carefully, our recall of information is very poor. Data from research studies indicate that after the conclusion of your briefing your audience will immediately forget 50% of the information presented. After 8 hours there is a 75% loss, and after three days there is a 90% loss.

Selective Perception
While our brains can process a tremendous amount of information, only a small portion of that information is critical to us and is actively processed. Our brain selectively attends to and processes only what is important to it at that moment. A small amount of that information is committed to short-term memory.

Audiences must understand an overall concept before they can understand the technical details. Speakers, because they are already very familiar with concepts, often begin with the hard-to-understand details. What audiences really need is an overview of the general concepts before they can usefully process the details.

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