Sunday 26 August 2012

Information overload

In any one moment we can only take in a limited amount of information into our short term memory.

If you don't believe me just go back to when you first started driving:

• Listening to the instructor
• Right hand on steering wheel
• Left hand on gear stick (or other way around if not driving a right hand drive car)
• Right foot on accelerator
• Left foot on clutch
• Eyes in front/rear mirror/dials
• Internal dialogue ("HELP!!")

Which explains why we couldn't listen to music as well and why any additional information such as a busy road, lots of pedestrians or forthcoming junction sent us into a panic. We were overloaded with information and couldn't cope.

Once we've learnt to drive much of this becomes habitual and does not take up space in our short term memory. Which means we can then listen to the radio, talk to a friend, watch the road signs all at the same time as driving.

So what impact does this have in communication?

Obviously the key is not to overload people with too much information or at least enable them to tie it in with info they already have. We also all have preferences on what we prefer to focus our limited attention on - which I'll cover in the next blog.

How can you amend your next presentation to ensure you don't overload your audience?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coaching
Sowing the seeds for effective communication in Purchasing

This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

Picture source: via Alison on Pinterest

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