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I was looking for a good StackExchange site to deliver this question. I feel like it could be a fit here.

I'm looking for an answer on what is considered the most effective means of information retention in a meeting.

For example, let's say I have 3 points of topic to cover in a meeting, all of varying degrees of importance.

Is it best to deliver the strongest point first or last in order to maximize information retention and efficiency in the audience?

Does it change if it is phone based vs. face-to-face?

My initial thought would be last*, but I figured studies may have been done on this before.

  • What's with the down vote? If this question can be improved, please leave feedback. – crush Jun 3 '14 at 12:45
  • Meetings are just plain bad at information delivery. Conflict resolution sure, but information delivery almost never works. – Andrew Clear Jun 10 '14 at 19:09
  • it's more effective to use documents instead of meetings, see yegor256.com/2015/07/13/meetings-are-legalized-robbery.html – yegor256 Jul 14 '15 at 22:53
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While this is not a PM question per se, but very interesting topic. There have been studies on Serial Position Effect. Primacy and recency biases seem to be linked to long and short term memories. Here's one study I just found: http://www.simplypsychology.org/primacy-recency.html

So, the question might be answered based on when you think the information will be recalled. Primacy seems to be linked to long term while recency for short term.

Hope this helps.

  • That is an interesting study. I've been having problems finding anything on Google corresponding to the study, but you've given me some fine terminology now to research. While the study you linked references studies on reciting words, I'm curious if the same pattern holds true for meetings. Where I work the Project Managers facilitate our department meetings, thus I thought it might be a good fit for this site. Although I'm not a Project Manager myself, I do conduct meetings with other developers from time to time and wish to be as effective as possible. Thanks! – crush Jun 2 '14 at 19:32
  • This was just one study. There are others designed differently that found similar results. Look for topics on cognitive biases, as well. Tversky and Kahneman are two authors that have a lot on the subject. – David Espina Jun 2 '14 at 21:22
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In your situation, my experience is that the two points of lesser importance should lead up to the third point. This emphasizes the importance of point #3 and shows why the three points are being presented together. Presenting this way helps your audience understand why you think point #3 is of the highest importance. Remember, you are trying to get them to think of the three points as you do.

This would be the case whether the meeting is in-person or via phone conference.

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Consider focusing on only one point and reinforce it throughout the meeting by presenting it in different ways. People tend to be distracted in meetings, even more so in phone meetings, and rarely give their "full" attention to something.

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