7 Wonders and 7 Core Values: The Magical Number for Messages That Stick
Your virtual assistants, distributed teams, and customers are likely to remember your messages better when you put The Rule of 7 to work.
Today, the daily bulletin was rebranded from a COVID-19 update to the Daily Update. This makes it more than just a time for pandemic news, but also for talking about concepts we can apply at work and in life.
“I want to help you to take your mindsets to a completely new area, learn new skills, and some new tools,” GO-VA Founder Matt Kesby told the www.go.team tribe, “to see you leverage up results in your life.”
So here’s one: The Rule of 7, which is also known as Miller’s Law.
In 1956, cognitive psychologist George A. Miller published a paper in the Psychological Review that, to this day, continues to have an impact on instructional design, marketing, and user experience design, among other things.
At its core, the paper states that our brains can only store 5 to 9 items (the magical number 7, plus or minus 2) at any given time.
“Once you start to get that list verbally happening in your mind, before you know it, you start to feel overwhelmed and the brain’s screaming, ‘Help!’ or it just dumps all the information and moves onto the next thing,” Matt pointed out in this Daily Update.
It’s not clear whether Miller was being playful or just curious, but he did point out in his paper many memorable groups of sevens in different fields, including geography, mythology, music and religion. Consider:
- the seven wonders of the world
- the seven seas
- the seven deadly sins
- the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades
- the seven primary colors
- the seven notes of the musical scale
- the seven days of the week
Of course, Miller’s theory on the limits of our short-term memory has been refined over time.
In a Sept. 9, 2013 essay for The New York Times, Roni Jacobson pointed out that the amount of information our short-term memory can hold is also shaped by other factors, “including age, attention, and the type of information presented.”
“For instance, long words like onomatopoeia and reciprocate take up more memory span than short words like cat and ball. Grouping similar bits of information into a meaningful unit, like a word of many syllables or an abstract concept, is called ‘chunking,’ and our ability to retain information decreases as the chunk becomes more complex.”
(So, you know, avoid long words if you want your message to stick.)
In GoTeam’s case, our core values also add up to 7. Yet the affirmation we regularly use with the whole tribe highlights just 3 words: You are Brave, Resilient, and Remarkable.
“There’s a very deep story behind each item,” Matt pointed out, “but having those words to anchor and hook to allows you to absorb the information in more detail. The Rule of 7: Apply it wherever you can.”
For more ideas and tips on communicating in the midst of a crisis, watch this on-demand webinar!