5 Reasons to End Your Bullet Point Addiction

Written by | Content Marketing

Most marketers have embraced bullet points in communications ranging from presentations and brochures to emails and websites. However, thought leaders like Jeff Bezos and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have banned them from presentations—and here’s why you should ween yourself off them, too.

“Just give me the bullet points and nobody gets hurt!”

For most integrated marketers, hitting Option+8 on the keyboard (a.k.a. the bullet keystroke) is like second nature: you want to break down a block of text, use bullet points! Designing a brochure for low-attention spans? Bullet points are your friend!

It’s true: many of us depend on bullet points to make it through the day. And it’s time to admit there’s a problem.

If the collective brain power of Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Elon Musk doesn’t inspire you to step away from the bullet point, nothing will! All of these leaders issued sweeping edicts for their employees to back off the bullet points. While much of their criticism is directed at PowerPoint and slide presentations, the insights work for emails, brochures, and web pages, too.

Here’s why you need to just say whoa:

  1. The brain works better when it doesn’t have to multitask.

Imagine the usual PowerPoint presentation with bullets on a page and a presenter droning on over the text. Your brain can only focus on one at a time. That’s why Pichai’s presentations have one idea per slide – he’s controlling the flow of information so his audience can digest it better and take action. Steve Jobs was also a master of the perfectly-paced, maximum-impact presentation.

  1. Eyes and brains like white space.

Hey, no shame: many of us default to bullet points. Good design needs to please the eyes as well as the brain—and using bullet points is just lazy design. White space is crucial to UX and increases retention up to 20%.

  1. Text isn’t memorable, but visuals are.

It’s science! As University of Washington biologist John Medina writes on Brain Rules: “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.”

  1. Bullets don’t inspire. Stories do.

Humans learn from narrative. If you’re a savvy marketer, you’ve already created your brand story. Stories are powerful tools that integrated marketers can use to drive real results.

  1. And there’s no better way to tell a story than with pictures or video.

Video is a natural choice for evoking narrative and demonstration—not to mention capturing attention. Simply adding video to an email blast is enough to boost conversion by 24%. Using moving images or cinemagraphs also offers a rich narrative feel for much less than producing video.

Last modified: July 7, 2018