Choice is a good thing, right?
True. But you can have too much of a good thing.
Most of the natural resource professionals I’ve met like to give people options rather than tell them what to do. Giving people choices can empower them and motivate action, as those of you that are parents know quite well. But giving people too many options actually prevents them from taking action. One supermarket study compared customers’ responses when offered samples of two jam varieties or six. In the six jam condition, people sampled more types of jam but were actually less likely to buy anything.
When people have too many choices, they have to do more brain work to sort through them and make a decision. Sometimes that work feels daunting, and sometimes they just put it off for another time. So, whenever possible, try to include one clear action in your messages. When you do have to offer people a choice of actions, keep it down to 2 or 3 options. And make their decision easier by including clear cues telling people which is right for them.
For example, don’t just say: You can either come to our meeting or give us a call.
Instead say: If you’re free on Saturday, come to our meeting. If you can’t make it, give us a call.
That way you’re empowering them with a choice, while removing any additional decision burden. And you’re making clear that you really want to hear from them.