In this age of BIG DATA and information overload, exactly how much information can we absorb. When we communicate with our customers/clients, what is the right amount of information to provide? The answer to these questions will always depend on:
- communication mode (face to face, email, web-meeting),
- customer sophistication (is this new technology, are you evangelizing, etc.,
- relationship with the customer (new or existing).
However, there are some 'rules of thumb' worth keeping in mind.
Physiologist George Miller developed a 'maximum packets of data' theory. I am calling it the…
MAGICAL 7 +/- 2
What the theory describes is that in any one encounter (sales call, presentation, conversation) the human brain can absorb/understand 7 (plus or minus 2) packets of data at one time.
Let us think about this for a second. Seems to make sense. If I try to push too much information, I lose my audience, they drown in the information. In my research of infographics, the same theory applies; too much graphics/data, and the audience is overloaded - and then disconnects.
My experience has been I try to leave my conversations/presentations with one or two key points, with an informational backup of 3-5 relevant stats/data/info. This seems to follow in line with Mr. Miller's theory.
What does this mean to you, who must present to customers, talk to customers, interact with customers?
- Avoid powerpoint overload. Endless text violates the magical 7 +/- theory.
- Plan ahead. What are the 5-9 key data points you want the listener to go away with?
- Try the "tell them what you will say, say it, and recap what you said". This will help define and clarify the 5-9 datapoints.
- Please keep the data graphics simple. Too much information causes the brain to simply 'tune out'.
Most of this seems common sense, however, it is amazing to see in many presentations how these common sense rules are violated and ignored.
Better communication leads to better customer/client understanding, which leads to a better customer experience.
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com). David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation. @dhaynestech.