Effective Communication: Getting your message remembered

by Betty Lochner on June 27, 2011

3 to 5

Here’s an interesting factoid: the average person can only remember three to five things at a time.

Now, that may not come as a big surprise to you, but what may surprise you is that most of us totally ignore that fact when we communicate with others.

Information that’s not retained and remembered, isn’t really very useful information. When we try to remember more than 3-5 things at a time, it will guarantee incomplete and ineffective communication.

So, as with many things in life, you just need to keep it simple.

Here are three tips to help your message be remembered:

1) Make a maximum of three to five points. If you are a rambler, then plan ahead and think of your points before you speak.

2) Don’t use big, impressive words. The simpler the language you use to make a point, the better. We remember things best when they are delivered at about an 8th grade language level (sad, but oh so true).

3) Instead of just stating your points, tell a story. Stories are more interesting. They resonate and are more easily understood and remembered. And, maybe even more important, stories are re-told – which also increases the retention rate.

Next time you share some information, or give a presentation that you want to have remembered, keep it three to five!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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