… if it were half as long?
When emergency room doctors received four pieces of data about incoming patients, they correctly diagnosed 95% of the time that someone in the ER was having a heart attack. When they had more information, their diagnostic accuracy dropped to 79% to 85%.
“We take it, as a given, that the more information decision makers have, the better off they are,” writes Malcolm Gladwell in Blink.
But the reverse is true. “All that extra information isn’t actually an advantage at all. In fact, that extra information is more than useless. It’s harmful. It confuses the issues.”
“You’re not more informed. You’re just numbed.”
As Tom Rosenstiel, former media critic for the Los Angeles Times, writes: “You’re not more informed. You’re just numbed.”
The list goes on.
Accountants are more likely to correctly predict that a company would go bankrupt in five years when they had six ratios than when they had four. But when they had eight, their success took a dive.
Seniors who were buried in data were less likely to choose a Medicare prescription drug benefit. In fact, 10% who were overwhelmed missed the deadline, even though it meant they would have to pay extra to enroll late.
Are you informing your readers? Or numbing them?
Find out how long your message should be.
How long should your message be?
Would your message be twice as good if it were half as long?
Yes, the research says. The shorter your message, the more likely readers are to read it, understand it and make good decisions based on it.
So how long is too long? What’s the right length for your piece? Your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
Find out at Rev Up Readability — our tight-writing workshop, which starts June 19.
There, you’ll use a cool (free!) tool to analyze your message for 27 readability metrics. You’ll leave with quantifiable targets, tips and techniques for measurably boosting readability.
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.