How to Find Repetitive Balance in Innovative Presentations

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Moderate repetition becomes persuasive repetition when you build the main innovative presnetation’s message over time. Using the Law of Repetition during the length of a presentation or speech creates a greater familiarity with the message and leads to gradual, yet firm, agreement as the intensity of repetition gradually builds.

Too much repetition in a short time span can defeat the purpose of gradual acceptance by creating a stronger aversion to the idea, plan, or proposal you recommend. In general, carefully space repeated messages at equal or similar intervals throughout your presentation to achieve acceptance by the audience.

There is no firm guideline on what is the right amount of repetition. It varies with your audience, the goals you’re trying to achieve, and the complexity of information you’re delivering. Use your judgment and experience accordingly.

Advertising uses the Law of Repetition in television commercials, which reinforce efforts in other outlets such as print, websites, or social media. Repetition serves two advertising purposes:

  • Branding: Commercials remind people of company and product names. Branding, or name recognition, means when people see a product or service, they know it and because it feels familiar, they’re more likely to buy it or recommend it, even it they haven’t used it.

  • Differentiation: Advertising demonstrates and tries to convince people of the superior merits of the product compared to any competitor’s product.

With the right amount, timing, and placement of content repetition in your presentation, people will realize the favorable implications and cogency of your persuasive arguments. Overdo it and tedium sets in, resulting in a negative reaction such as annoyance or, worse yet, a contrarian attitude of resistance toward your message, which defeats the purpose!

Consider this (fictional) 15-second commercial about a laundry detergent. In this example, the advertiser repeats the name of the product a dozen times within that limited time period:

Commentator: Sudsy D cleans clothes like new because Sudsy D has patented SupaStuff that rips out dirt and grime. Martha uses Sudsy D on her 15 kids’ clothes that have days-old spaghetti sauce, ink spots, and chocolate syrup on them.

Martha: Sudsy D is the only detergent I use. Sudsy D works. Who can live without Sudsy D? I can’t imagine life without Sudsy D. I strongly recommend Sudsy D. Before using Sudsy D, people thought my family had perpetual food fights!

Commentator: Buy Sudsy D and live a clean life for a change … Sudsy D, the ultimate dirt terminator. Sudsy D.

Advertisers use the term wearout when referring to the negative result of over-repeated exposures to a commercial. Research studies show attention, awareness, and recall initially increase and then level off with moderate repetition but ultimately decline with overexposure to the repeated message. This wearout phenomenon happens when people no longer focus on a message and it loses its effectiveness as people either tune out or selective forgetting sets in.