By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
In previous posts, I’ve revealed a near-missionary zeal for structure. The division and sequence of presentations should be not simply known by the presenter, but emphatically obvious to the audience. I think that is better communication. It is also especially suited to legal persuasion during trial where litigators use a mostly-oral medium in order to help lay audiences understand what are often highly complex facts and evidence. Key questions should guide the opening, chapters should break up the direct examinations, and steps should lead your jury to the right verdict. And all of these dividers will be more clear to your target audience of jurors, arbitrators, or judges if they are not simply sequenced, but explicitly numbered as well. As much as I emphasize that, however, the attorneys I work with don’t always number as clearly as I’d like. So, to take another run at it, here are seven reasons why explicit enumeration is better.
1. Numbering "Chunks" Your Message
“Chunking” refers to the practice, supported by research, of breaking a larger message into smaller parts. Separation into segments makes the message, argument, or story more understandable, just as adding a couple of dashes to a telephone number (3 groups of 3 or 4 numbers instead of one group of 10) makes it easier to remember the full sequence of numbers. But it is only a chunk if the audience knows it's a chunk. For that reason, adding explicit numbers to your list is the way to go.