What is “message chunking”?

When communicating, we need to be aware that the other person can only listen to, process and understand so much information without hitting information overload. It takes time for a person to hear and assimilate what is being said (or written. That’s one of the reasons why “less is more” often comes into play.

Message chunking involves breaking up the information you have to convey into smaller, well organized and related pieces or chunks. Then, what you do is talk/write about the chunk, check for understanding with the other person, allow the person to reflect, and THEN move to the next chunk, making sure the person is clear about the relationship between one chunk and the next.

A good writer, for example, uses well organized paragraphs that flow into each other, and that’s a form of message chunking in written form. A good speaker does the same thing, also incorporating pauses to allow the listeners time to reflect and understand before moving on.

This also applies to one-to-one conversations. For example, if you are offering someone feedback on something, rather than dump the whole barrel onto the person, you chunk it. You offer one element, then discuss, then move onto the next.

The key element here is that the more you talk without allowing people to assimilate what you are saying, the less likely they will be to understand, and the more likely they will get lost completely.

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