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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Considering the Length of Lists

Very nicely put pieee on the length of lists.  Very true., good to have in the back of your mind when writing or speaking.

Communicate Using the Numbers 1, 2, 3, and More    By Thomas A. Limoncelli

Communications of the ACM, June 2020, Vol. 63 No. 6, Pages 42-44   10.1145/3386267

The human brain reacts differently to lists of different lengths. When you align what you say with what the human brain expects, you communicate more effectively. In this column I'll explain how to leverage the way the brain reacts to various quantities to make your speaking and writing more effective.

People often use lists of various sizes when communicating. I might have 2 reasons for supporting the new company strategy. I might tell you my 3 favorite programming languages. I might make a presentation that describes 4 new features. There is 1 vegetable that I like more than any other.

The length of the list affects how the audience interprets what is being said. Not aligning with what the human brain expects is like swimming upstream. Given the choice, why would anyone do that?  ... '

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