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Bite-sized Chunks

 

Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Bite-sized Chunks

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When speaking or presenting, give your audience digestible, bite-sized chunks rather than snowing them with information and requests for agreement.

One way of helping this is to use shorter sentences with plain language (rather than complex jargon). Keeping each point short and simple will help people understand and accept these. Another way is to keep each part of the presentation to one key idea, giving time for people to get the point.

Pause after each item and watch for signals that people have got it, such as smiles and nodding. If they look puzzled, be prepared to add further examples and explanation.

Example

Now let's talk about grass seed. Grass needs water to grow. You know that. It also needs nutrients. The first nutrient that we are going to talk about is karabin. This is a new treatment that helps the plant green up quickly.

If you want people to trust you, then you have to be reliable. This means keeping your promises. Let me tell you a story about promises kept and promises broken...

Discussion

When you understand something well, it can seem that telling others about it is a simple descriptive exercise. Yet when there are a number of new concepts for them to understand and accept, it is very easy for them to become overloaded.

When a person hears or sees something, one of the things they have to do to make sense of it is to find a match against the many models in their current system of understanding. If it matches a commonly-used model, then understanding is easier. It takes a bit more time to appreciate something that is not experienced very often. And when something new, then it takes a lot of work to rearrange the existing models in order to fit in a new piece of information.

If you can help others fit new information into their system of understanding by decomposing your point, then they will appreciate your support and be much more likely to accept what you are saying.

A big trap in presenting is the desire to keep to your carefully-prepared script. However, this script assumes people will understand. If most of the people are lost or do not agree, then simply carrying on is an action for your own satisfaction, not for anyone else's benefit.

See also

Chunking questions, Decompositional reasoning

 

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