Simplification Strategies – How To Simplify New Concepts For Wider Audiences
Bright innovators often can benefit from simplifying their presentations. Key is how to not overload the listener’s brain. Reduce over loading your listener with certain types of information. There is more to it than just weeding out less essential information. Here’s a checklist of methods that can help reduce the listener’s cognitive overloading.
Check List For Simplifying Your Explanations:
Memory Load: Reduce the amount of short-term memory the listener needs to use. Limit to 5-7 pieces of new info.
Chunk Down Information: Break info into smaller bits. Creating bullets helps.
Working Memory Overload: Give only five to seven pieces of info at a time to minimize WM overload.
Balance Verbal & Visual Presentation Modes:
• Include Picture: Reduces extraneous load because multimodal presentation uses both the visual and auditory processors of working memory
More Important Points:
Processing Time: give time between each chunk. Instruct at listener’s pace.
Avoid Distractions: Avoid explaining while the listener is otherwise engaged such as driving. Get their full attention.
Coherence effect: Peoples’ learning is hindered when extraneous sound, pictures, and words are used in teaching.
User Interest Sweet Spot: Find the sweet spot of interest for your audience.
Aligning: Place printed words near corresponding parts of graphics to reduce need for visual scanning.
Synchronizing: Present narration and corresponding animation simultaneously
Repetition Can Overload:
• When presenting info on a screen, better not directly narrate the on-screen text, as this can overload listeners.
Give Context: Teach about basics behind the subject matter.
• Example: Attorneys can teach jurors about the relevant law before they hear about the facts of the court case. Then jurors will be in a deliberative mindset; which helps jurors consider many different possibilities, instead of trying to fit the law into the story they already created about the court case. Such a deliberative mindset will reduce jurors’ cognitive load and free up their cognitive resources. Jurors can better focus on learning the law, then next apply that law to the facts they see in the trial.
Listeners That Are Upset: Have less cognitive space for taking in new information. Listeners upset at the speaker may also have more bias.
Animated videos: Helps to provide the script in text form as well.
• Provide spoken text in written form.
• Having them practice what they learned helps them understand and remember. Answering questions often helps but limit the scope of the questions to avoid cognitive overload.
• Student to self explain what they learned. Listeners to take notes.
Integrate The Information:
• This helps eliminate the need for learners to have to mentally integrate that information which increases the load on working memory.
Listener To Be Free Of Goals: Explain first without giving the goal. Listeners are using more cognitive load by simultaneously thinking about the goal and the explanation. Goal state of mind comes later.
• People’s motivations and goals influence how they perceive, attend to, and interpret information.
• Requesting a specific performance goal places too much cognitive demand and distracts attention from knowledge acquisition.
• If problems are “goal free” ie “find what you can”, then a problem solver has little option but to focus on the information provided (the given data) and to use it where ever possible. This automatically induces a forwards working solution path similar to those generated by expert problem solvers. Such forward working solutions impose very low levels of cognitive load and facilitate learning.
Give Worked Out Examples:
• Reduces extraneous load caused by weak-method problem solving. Show how problems were worked out.
• Provide Partial Solutions: Reduces extraneous load because giving part of the solution reduces the size of the problem space
• Give examples in an alternative sequence, such as: type 1, practice type 1, example type 2, practice type 2. This strategy is highly effective for teaching math based content.
Limit Information Sources: Avoid Split Attention: • Reduces extraneous load because there is no need to mentally integrate the information sources. Reduces cognitive load factor.
• Additional backup can be left buried in the details section.
Free discussion groups at Inventor’s Cooperative ™. Cognitive overloading is part of the weekly web communications discussion and networking group’s focus. Innovation Institute, LLC. www.Innovation-Institute.Net Wednesdays Noon to 12:45PM located near Napa, between San Francisco and Sacramento near highway I-80.