[Image by Open ClipArt Vectors of Pixabay]

We all rely on our memories.  Actually, knowing that fact is critical when we’re speaking to an individual or group of people.

While reading posts on communication, I came across an article titled: The 7 Essentials of Business Communication by Lee Hopkins. As I was reading this, the author referred to the seventh element of the Psychological Rule of 7 (+/- ) 2.  Not being familiar with this, I found it helpful to learn about it and want to share it with you.

The author explains that we know from psychologists that:

  • The human brain has a finite capacity to hold information in our short-term or ‘working’ memory.
  • Additionally, the brain is structured in a way to hold clusters or groups of similar items. These clusters tend to average around seven, plus or minus two.  As a speaker, this translates into knowing that our audience tends to hold a range of  five to nine pieces of information at a time.
  • The author also points out that your business communication message will be grouped with between 4-8 existing messages, which then goes into long-term memory.  Therefore, the author tells us that if speakers want their key messages to be remembered 5 minutes later, it’s essential to limit their business communication to five to nine elements.
  • Similarly, if speakers want their action items to be remembered 5 weeks later, ensure your communication is among the five to nine most memorable messages your audience has attended to in the last five weeks.

As I read this article, my thought was that the Psychological Rule  of 7  (+/- ) 2 is most likely optimistic.  I coach my clients to think of limiting what’s most salient to three points.  In my experience, three is a more realistic number when it comes to remembering.  As we know, attention spans are short and unless we work at chunking, it is challenging to extend what we remember to five to nine, but it can be accomplished.

Want to discuss ways to increase the attention of your listener?  You’re welcome to contact me at 518-664-6004 or dale@profitablespeech and I’ll be happy to assist you with ways to remember to remember.