How much information can a person digest?
I know – that varies a lot! While you and I of course can process tons of info, this is not the case for everyone. Read on:
Two types of memory are utilized when humans process information: Long-term Memory and Working Memory.
Long-term Memory is made up of one’s experiences, such as how we expect the top light of a street signal to be red. Long term memory is the “grumpy hard worker” of the brain, and only rises to the occasion when something is too difficult for the Working Memory.
Working Memory is the night-light of the brain. Much like a hamster, it is always on and ready, but will not process too much or difficult information. It prefers to deal with simple information, and preferably only 3 pieces of new information at a time. The brain prefers to use its Working Memory, because this is less hard work.
The take home for you is this: when designing your presentation, keep your audience happy, by making it easy for them: Direct your information to your audience’s Working Memory by providing information that they find relevant right here and now, and limit yourself to 3 chunks of overall information.
Embrace this limitation and make your 3 pieces of info highly relevant. This way you’ll be sure that the audience hears and remember your message.
Basic brain knowledge as it is, it will help your audience process, digest, and retain the information you share.