The Top Five Reasons We Like “Top 5” Lists

The Top Five Reasons We Like “Top 5” Lists

Like many people, I tend to gravitate toward articles entitled, “The Top Five Mistakes Consultants Make,” or “Top Three Must-see Movies of 2013.” I also noticed I’m more likely to forward information delivered in this format to others.

Why do we prefer to read lists while other (potentially more interesting and/or insightful) articles remain unread?

  1. Scan-ability: With just a glance, we know whether we want to read further.
  2. Time: A few words take less time to read than a paragraph . . . or ten.
  3. Ease: Someone has already highlighted the key points for us.
  4. Clarity: The author is forced to distill his/her thoughts.
  5. Simplicity: No wading through anecdotes or stories to get to the point.

These lists can work in your favor if you leverage them to catch someone’s attention. You can then link to additional information for readers who want to learn more. It’s also a great exercise to consolidate your thoughts. It’s much harder to write a Top X list than to write in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. Maximizing others’ time often involves investing more of your own.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.