On Brevity and Clear Communication

by DanB

Interesting post on Dave Gray’s blog regarding his friend Alberto Boin’s method for boiling down complex topics into a useable “recipe”. Boin uses it to design software but the concept is useful in many areas. You can read that blog entry here:

David Gray’s Simple Recipe for Effective Communication post

I have used a related technique for a long time. When I give sermon’s or short talks I take all my notes and outlines and condense them on to the back of a single business card. This often involves defining high level contexts. The end result is not a crowded card but a clear uncluttered card with single words in a single column. Usually only three or four words. The details of my information is put into a mind map.

When it comes time for the presentation I carry the business card, the mind map, and other reference materials to the lecturn. In the case of a sermon that is my Bible and I use the business card as a book mark.

Condensing your material into three or four “key” words then expanding it all into a mind map forces you to consider your topic in different ways. The concept of “chunking up” and “chunking down” that would apply here.

The small business card becomes the main outline for my talk. If I get sidetracked it is easier to look at my little card and find my place than to dig through a stack of notes. The mindmap displays the interelation of the concepts and lets me quickly find the information I seek. The two tools together allow me to focus on the presentation and the audience. They prevent the tendancy to bog down in a pile of notes or worse simply reading from your notes. If reading the notes would convey the information simply photocopy them and pass them out!

Read Gray’s article and think about where you can Boin’s recipe technique to streamline some of your thinking.

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