PREACHING & TEACHING: People can only keep about four things in their mind at a time. And usually just one or two things is the working memory span of most people. So, use just 1-2 bullet points in your PowerPoint presentation (and not seven or more).

Michelle D. Miller. (2014). Minds Online : Teaching Effectively with Technology. Harvard University Press. p. 94.

Limitations on working memory. You may have read somewhere that we can only hold about seven items at a time in working memory. That’s a reassuring enough figure, and might imply that students will do best when we present only seven points at a time— say, seven topics on a web page, or seven bullet points on a PowerPoint slide. But this long- repeated number is now under question as researchers devise ways to measure capacity that factor out rehearsal strategies, imagery, and other mnemonic tricks. Using these updated methods, researchers have found that working memory span is closer to just four items.8 And even within this set of four things, there may be just one or two that are active enough for us to actually use.9 Pinning down the precise number is an important goal for mem-ory theorists, but isn’t really germane to real- world teaching.

8 N. Cowan (2010), The magical mystery four: How is working memory capacity limited, and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science 19(1): 51– 57, doi:10.1177/0963721409359277.

9 N. Cowan, E. M. Elliott, J. Saults, C. C. Morey, S. Mattox, A. Hismjatullina, and A. A. Conway (2005), On the capacity of attention: Its esti-mation and its role in working memory and cognitive aptitudes, Cognitive Psy-chology 51(1): 42– 100, doi:10.1016/j.cog psych.2004.12.001

SERVANT LEADERSHIP & What St. Nicholas Can Teach Us About Leadership

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Dec. 17, 2020.

This five minute video was created for a group of secular Vietnamese business leaders. Though they are very interested in Christmas, they want to know more about the stories behind Christmas icons, such as Santa. I explain that …

Every time we see Santa Claus … we should think about

the real St. Nicholas and how he became famous

because he exemplified God’s character of giving.

Click on the download button to watch.

CHANGE & the Strategy PowerPoint – John P. Kotter

The Big Opportunity Graphicby John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Review, April 22, 2014

“…Briefly, here is the idea: a Big Opportunity articulates in language that is analytically accurate and emotionally compelling an opportunity that will move an organization forward in a substantial way. It is that exciting possibility which, if you can capitalize on it, will place you into a prosperous, winning future. It is related to vision and strategy in a very straightforward way: a strategy shows you what you need to get to a vision; a vision shows you what you will be doing if you get to, and are able to capitalize on, a big opportunity.


A written statement of a Big Opportunity can be a very useful tool. It is short, like a vision statement, and unlike a strategy description which is often much longer. “Short” usually means about half a page long. The crisp clarity of it is one of its advantages. Another is its tone. Both strategies and visions can sound like: OK, this is what top management has decided and now you will go do it. Effective Big Opportunity statements direct attention to an inspiring rainbow outside; they don’t feel like a finger pointing out what the managerial and employee children should be doing inside the organization…”

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