6. Chunking

Create clear and convincing internal communications, strategic plans, research reports and other boardroom-style slides.


Limit your slide to 3-4 chunks of information. That’s the most that your reader can hold in working memory.

Working memory is where people hold information in their mind and understand it. The 3-4 limit has been proven in many scientific studies. That’s why advertisers use taglines with about three phrases. Consider the tagline for the U.S. Marine Corps: “The few, the proud, the marines.” What happens if you try to jam in more than three ideas? It becomes word soup: “The few, the brave, the proud, the loyal, the patriotic, the marines.”

The same thing happens when you try to cram too much information onto your slide. You may have 10 things you want the reader to know. But the reader can only hold 3-4 things at a time.

Just because you put it on a slide, doesn’t mean you have communicated it.

So, limit your slide to 3-4 chunks of information.

What is a chunk of information? It’s anything the eye can see as one thing, or one group of things. The eye chunks things using Gestalt principles of proximity, similarity, enclosure and other rules. You will want to learn these rules so you can chunk the information on your slide and avoid overwhelming the reader with word soup.

Next: Picture-Superiority Effect

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