6 principles for managing info overload

Continued from last post . . . So here are those six principles for helping employees feel less overloaded with information.

  • Intrigue readers by being both understandable but also “pleasantly surprising”: Familiar Surprise.
  • Start out with an overview that tells employees what they’re receiving in the communication and its value to them, with “pointers” to what’s inside: a Detailed Overview.
  • “A high degree of novelty of message format and content” can cause overload, but use standard formats that can be flexible personalized: Flexible Stability.
  • Quantity overloads, so “reduce messages to their essential elements” and provide an easy way to navigate complex facts: Simple Complexity.
  • People absorb information in different ways, so use multiple formats; but aim to stay crisp and consistent:  Concise Redundancy.
  • “Although the provided information should be complete, it should still leave opportunities for recipients to elaborate on it”: Unfinished Completeness. 

These feel a little sterile as stated, but they really work when you’re up late pulling together the next round of routine communications.

Again, all from “Preparing Messages for Information Overload Environments,” by Martin Eppler and Jeanne Mengis, available here from the IABC.


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