Strategy for the Body
There are many ways you can approach how to lay out the information so that the audience can readily understand it and the relationships of the parts to the whole. Without an obvious pattern to give context, people have a difficult time absorbing and retaining information that fits into a bigger picture of why they should care about it.
If you want to discuss a series of things that do not lend themselves to some other logical sequence, you could talk about them in alphabetical order, such as cities with low crime or the frequency of family names in a state (or this sequence of strategies).
Illuminating the real causes that led to certain results may help your audience to grasp a meaningful relationship better than a simple chronology. You might be discussing a scholarly analysis of the role of protection of slavery versus states rights as motivators for the formation of the Confederacy. Or you could be explaining the results of a failed marketing plan.
If the order of occurrence is of primary concern, however, a chronology may be ideal. You could be recounting the origins, highlights, and future prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The evolution of a new toothpaste might have a very short but detail-rich history, with implications for developing other products.
It is often asserted that people do not retain more than three big points from a presentation. Of course, the reality varies widely: someone who is half-asleep after lunch may not remember anything, while someone else on the front row who thinks you are making fundamental errors in assumption will hang on every word. Keeping the structure of the speech simple and uncluttered with unnecessary facts will help retention.
You may want to start with a discussion of simple systems and gradually move to more complex ones or easy versus difficult challenges. Examples could be comparing the characteristics of 1950s television sets with today's high-definition TVs, or the difficulties fac-ing a group that are easily solved and then the intractable problems.
You could arrange the discussion in terms of spatial relationships or location. For example, you are giving a status report on the construction of a building and present this floor by floor. Or you are discussing the future of church missionary work by continent.
One memory trick to help people retain the message is to assign meaning to each letter in a word: LOVE can stand for Losing Our Valuable Earth or Letting Others View Everything.
Analogy helps to explain something by comparison with something else that has some similarities: relating the fourth quarter of a football game to your company's fourth quarter results. Metaphors are a subset of analogies that make more complex and whole identifications. An extended metaphor would be to relate the story of King Arthur as a struggle between a wise old order against the dangers of brash upstarts.
If you were examining different parts of a whole, it could help the audience pay attention to the entire list if you number them: three competing economic theories, or your summary of an article that is going to be in six bite-size pieces. Tell them how many points you will be covering before you start.
If you are addressing a group to provide your expertise to solve a problem, you need to first assess the awareness of the audience. If some members know almost nothing, you can at least briefly review how the challenge developed until the crisis point, and then present different ways to resolve it in more detail. Your Masonic lodge may have dwindling membership, or there is not currently enough money to provide adequate marketing for the symphony's program this year.
You could present information in terms of significant meaning in the changes in incidences: a population explosion in Africa or rising sales. This would be a good time to show a chart or slide to help the audience visualize the trend.
In a talk about new video games or this year's winners of art prizes, you could present them in related groups: war games would be reviewed together; first, second, and third prizes in oil would be separated from awards for watercolor.
Once you have laid out a logical presentation of the basic facts, you want to take a few minutes to wrap up.