1. Today’s reader is riddled with information hitting us from every side.
2. Traditional and online media assault our senses to the point of sensory shutdown.
3. Consequently, today’s reader is strongly attracted to numbered lists.
4. A numbered list promises a starting point, a conclusion, and milestones along the way.
5. A numbered list contains the fewest possible words.
6. A numbered list feels memorable, portable and doable.
7.A reader who would have glanced at your headline and then moved on will often give your message a second look when they see a numbered list.
Information organized into paragraphs feels casual and intimate. But that same information in a numbered list feels authoritative and useful.
8. Information in paragraphs feels casual and intimate.
9. Information in a numbered list feels authoritative and useful.
SUMMARY: When you need to present a big idea, develop a numbered list. Your information will be easier to follow, appear more credible and trigger a clearly measurable response.
Trust me on this. I’ve been experimenting with numbered lists for more than 25 years.
A few weeks ago I presented Pendulum to a few hundred executives from big corporations. A few hours before taking the stage, I chose 4 slides that contained information in paragraph form and altered them to unveil that same information as a numbered list. In each of the 4 instances a numbered list appeared, hundreds of iPhones were lifted to capture a snapshot of it. Most of the audience didn’t even bother to read it first. These men and women reached for their cameras the moment they saw the information was sequential.
Numbered lists feel authoritative and useful.
Have you learned anything you can use?
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Roy H. Williams
The image at the top of the page is The Listener by James Christensen, the artist I consider to be the Norman Rockwell of our generation.