Goldilocks communication: Just the right amount of information

In the story ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, Goldilocks made sure everything was juuust right – what she ate (not too hot or too cold), the chairs she sat on and the bed she slept in (not too hard or too soft).

So Goldilocks communication is where you provide just the right amount of information to influence your listener.

Great communicators don’t overwhelm or leave people guessing.

  • Too much information means your audience could lose focus
  • Not enough and they might not understand or be convinced
  • Deciding the right amount can be the difference between success and failure

How many words would you prefer?

  • Version 1: “How to be articulate enough to actually say quite a lot more in terms of content while at the same time using fewer, you know, words, to do so.”
  • Version 2: “How to say more using fewer words.”
  • Version 3: “Say more using fewer.”

Version 1 is way too long, but not unlike the way some people speak. Version 2 is great, while version 3 is trying too hard to reduce word count and as a result is unclear.

Unfortunately, version 3 happens a lot – as people are so close to an issue and assume the audience sees it as clearly as they do.

A silly example perhaps, but when we are under pressure, our ability to think clearly can be impaired. As a result, some people freeze and say too little, while others ramble.

How do others see you?

What would other people say about your communication? Too much information, too little or just right?


If you’d like to develop your communication skills, consider:


  1. In my 30 years as a newspaper reporter reading press releases and materials from advertisers and PR folks, this is one of the best-ever pieces on communication that I’ve read.

    I’ve heard of the Goldilocks principle / effects / syndrome in scientific concepts but this is the first time I read about it in communication. Well-spoken!

  2. Personally I think almost all Abe Lincoln’s speeches followed the Goldilocks principle. He combined skill, compassion and intelligence in his speeches. Unfortunately, mass communication practitioners today while trying to say things intelligently and skilfully, lack compassion. Messages are just to gain votes or “market share” (whatever that means); and audiences are treated as dummies to be manipulated. As ol’ Abe once said, you can fool some people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of them all the time.


  1. […] marketing and communication, a philosophy known as the “Goldilocks Principle” states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes. In […]

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