Information Overload: Avoid It Like The Plague

We live in the information age. And it’s being dumped on us by the truckload. Three pounds of stuff in the mailbox a day. Hundreds of TV channels, streaming services to binge on. 623 e-mail messages selling male enhancement pills per day.

And that’s only a fraction of the information that bombards us. There are billboards along highways, news broadcasts on the radio, newspapers, bills, books, seminars, random conversations at lunch time, business meetings, it never ends.

This information overload is felt even when you walk into the supermarket cereal aisle and have to choose from about 200 boxes screaming with bright colors and promises of low fat and high fiber, when all you want is lots of sugar and a cool little plastic prize or something like that.

Kinda of makes you dizzy, right?

There’s just too much information to process. And when people feel overwhelmed, they react in ways that aren’t good for your blog.

Whatever your blog is about, it all boils down to information, usually in the form of words people have to read. But people will stop reading when they feel overloaded, or they’ll filter out difficult information and look for stuff that is easier to understand, or they’ll simply misunderstand what you’re talking about and won’t respond in the way you want.

Or, worst of all, they may just ignore you altogether.

So… what is to be done?

Well, you can do some simple things in your writing to make the information you present clear, simple, and easy to understand.

  1. Make clarity your primary objective. You can’t communicate or persuade someone if that person doesn’t understand your point. Don’t write to show off or call attention to how smart or clever you are. Simplify your message. Make it easy to understand. Good writing is like a clean pane of glass in a storefront—you don’t notice the glass, but you can clearly see what you want on the other side.
  2. Decide what you want to say before you say it. Don’t just hope something sensible will reveal itself as you write. Plan and outline. Think about the point you want to make. Determine the tone or emotional feel. Know where you’re headed before you start. This helps you stay on point and avoid distracting ideas.
  3. Organize your information visually. Don’t be one of those bloggers who thinks subheads, bold face, and bullets are just for search engine optimization. They’re really for visual organization.
  4. Link information with familiar ideas. If there’s any chance for misunderstanding, use a simple analogy that relates to something your reader is already familiar and comfortable with.
  5. Inject emotional content. Ideas are easier to understand and remember when they are linked with emotional content or intense feelings.People process emotional ideas more easily than intellectual ones. Make people feel so they don’t have to think so hard.
  6. Focus on one big idea. Don’t dump too many messages on your reader at once. Start with a simple idea. Then build and reinforce that one idea, adding information paragraph by paragraph, always linking back to that one big idea. Take this blog post for instance: my big idea is information overload. Each point I make refers to that one point. Even if one point isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be, the reader will never be lost or feel overwhelmed because I’m really only talking about one simple idea.
  7. Present your main idea at the beginning and end of your articles. People tend to remember what comes first and what comes last. Things in the middle are usually forgotten. In a blog post of any length, state your point early in the post and restate it at the end. Follow the rule for good public speaking: Tell ‘em what you’re going to say. Say it. Tell ‘em what you just said.

If you apply these ideas to your blog posts, you can reduce the feeling of information overload for your readers. If your blog becomes an oasis of clarity and simplicity in this sea of confusing information we live in, people will want to spend more time on your site reading and responding to what you have to say.

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33 thoughts on “Information Overload: Avoid It Like The Plague

  1. This is great advice! I think it is so easy to fall into the trap of providing information on a subject that just isn’t needed. Being able to write clearly will also bring more followers as it makes the content more enjoyable and accessible.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Definitely agree with a lot said here.

    When I started my blog my focus was always to get out what’s on my mind, those ‘aha’ moments, sod the bloody community, so bloody popularity.

    Regarding organizing information visually; I model my posts on things I’ve read over the years that have APPEALED TO ME. I used bullets and bold sub-headings liberally because things I’ve seen over the years like that have drawn me in. Whether people like it or not I don’t give a shit about, what matters is I can express my thoughts and it’s there for people to stumble across.

    Points 6 & 7 are the best; KEEP ON BLOODY TOPIC! It’s easy to ramble on and go onto t other topics. Point 7 is most important; start on the point (on a positive note), ramble, touch on other topics, then conclude on the original (and keep positive as well). I try to but silly me has made the odd post that hasn’t kept to that.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I guess I’ve always thought my “skimming” method of getting by in life was a fault. But honestly, it’s stood me well! If anything is longer than a couple of paragraphs to read, I skim the rest, ie, just read random sentences, first, last. Same with my writing. SHORT is better, folks!! Edit and trim it down.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great ideas Jordan! Especially appropriate given the “140 character” universe we live in. I used to do a lot of public speaking years ago. When asked for advice, I gave people Point 7. (1) Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. (2) Tell ’em. (3) Tell ’em what you just told ’em.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I love the idea of emotion over intellect. I personally tend to focus more on posts that get me emotionally involved and make me feel like I’m friends with the writer than the ones that make me feel like I read it a textbook. Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. All excellent points. Some of what I do:

    If one of my blog posts addresses more than one subject, I use a “drop cap” at the beginning of each separate subject.

    Yesterday, I accidentally discovered how to include both a photo and text in the same paragraph. Since I was writing about an old classical-record label, this allowed me to use the photos to mark different sections.

    I also use bullet lists, which I like, and the “Quote” format, which I like less, as ways of setting things off.

    Like

  7. Information overload can be frustrating. It keeps you from retaining valuable information because of the volume of information we are exposed to. I know personally I can become stressed out to have to sift through too much information.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for the great advise. Because I am a teacher, I tend to write more informational blogs so the reminder to include an emotional element is well received. I do know from my research in healing painful memories, that the more emotion you felt at the time of the painful event, the more powerful the memory will be. Also, the more powerful the memory, the more it controls your thinking and behavior.
    Your blog post appeals to our need to be heard, understood, and accepted. This evokes the feeling that you care about your readers and their success. I will be mindful when I write my next blog post. I tend to be a deep thinker but not feel to deeply so this will be a learning curve for me. I had to shut my feelings off because of all the abuse I suffered from my past hense why I began my self-help website.

    Liked by 1 person

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