KISSing and CHUNKing is not Chinese sex

5 Jan

Ever noticed how some people are very effective in both oral and written communications whereas others seem unable to communicate anything clearly?

KISS = Keep It Short and Simple – but why?

In 1956, the psychologist George Miller wrote a classic article titled “The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two: Limits On Human Information Processing Capacity.”

In this article, Miller defined what good communicators intuitively understand: People mentally store and retrieve information in “chunks,” and the maximum size of a chunk is 7 ± 2 and fewer is more effective.

Our ability to organize ascending and descending chunks makes our information processing capacity huge.  The ability to do this effectively is called cognitive efficiency.

The communication principle:  Fewer is better, less is more

Here are some of the many places where this works:

  1. Processing:  look for the core ideas in a paper or the key take-aways in a meeting.
  2. Speaking:  Using no more than 2 or 3 ideas and reiterateing them to assure reception (redundancy).
  3. Writing: Using as few bullet points as possible,  doing executive summaries.
  4. Participating people in a meeting: 7 ± 2 maximum
  5. Improving personal performance: Don’t put too many things on your work plate.

    Get the point.

    Pop Quiz: Who Said, “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written You a Shorter Letter?”

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