Focusing your presentations

What do we remember more: the beginning or ending of a presentation? Some rules of thumb when planning your beginnings and endings:

  • If your presentation is super short, the beginning and ending can have an equal chance of being remembered immediately afterwards.
  • If your presentation is long, the beginning is usually remembered most clearly. This happens for a variety of reasons including listener fatigue.
  • If your presentation is long, but you want to people to remember more than just the beginning, you can intersperse distractor activities throughout. A question and answer, a demo, or an activity resets the “beginning and ending clock.”
  • In social judgment, the thing people hear first tends to win over the thing they hear most recently suggesting first impressions hold.
  • Ultimately, recall is impacted by inconsistency or a deviation from the pattern. An audience will remember the ending more if it is highly inconsistent with the rest of the presentation.