Beware Stats that End in Zero

June 12, 2015

Psychiatrist William Glasser’s research about how we retain information says that we remember:

10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we share/​discus
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others

Sounds nice, right? And it fits right in with what we do: We tell our clients’ stories using audio and visuals to reinforce the message. But these oft-quoted stats are not true.

These stats have been attributed to a number of researchers, including Edgar Dale, Bruce Nyland, and the British Audio-Visual Society. A version of these stats have been floating around educational circles since 1913. With the prolif­eration of the internet, these stats continue to be circulated without much thought as to whether they are real or not. The truth is that depending on the audience and the subject matter, sometimes reading is the best way to learn about a topic.. And there are times that visuals alone have a bigger impact.

What is the best way to convey your message?

1.Consider the audience. What do they already know about the subject you want to share? Tailor your message to that audience.

2.Consider the best way to reach that audience: Online video, a website, tv or radio commercial, live event, interactive kiosk or a combination of these methods?

3. Craft your message with your targeted audience and distri­bution method in mind.

Now you can tell your story to a targeted audience using the best method of delivery. If this sounds daunting, then partner with communi­cation profes­sionals to help guide you through the process. They can help research your audience, understand where your audience spends time and target your message to their location.

So remember: 80% of stats that end with zero are bullshit. Dig deeper and share an authentic story. Your audience will thank you.

Links to read more:

Debunking the stats: http://​www​.willat​worklearning​.com/​2006​/​05​/​p​e​o​p​l​e​_​r​e​m​e​m​b​e​r​.html

Center for Digital Storytelling:http://​storycenter​.org/