How to Communicate Clearly at All Levels

heliMost people are more bent towards either the ‘big picture’ or ‘small picture.’ Some people like to hear the big picture — the overarching ideas — before they can understand the small picture. For others, they just need the small picture and don’t really need the big one.

What style you’re oriented towards will depend on how you communicate. If you’re naturally someone who’s good at details, there will be a tendency to talk ‘small picture’ for an extended period of time. If you’re someone who’s naturally great at coming up with innovative ideas and you fumble sometimes at small-picture ideas, there will be a tendency for you to be vague and general when sharing information.

When you’re communicating messages in a meeting, you need to chunk through multiple levels of abstraction. What this means is that you must share both the big picture and the small picture. Talk about the context, and also the details. Most people like to hear information from a big-pciture perspective first, then the details second. This is something you may have been aware of, but mastery is found when you consciously communicate the big picture, then the small picture next.

At your next meeting, share something like “So guys, the big picture here is that we’re doing X… So what that means from a small-picture perspective is this…”



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  • Kylie
    Posted at 01:30h, 23 April Reply

    Great message, Colin. The thing that particularly speaks to me is “mastery is found when you consciously communicate…”.

  • Tania
    Posted at 05:11h, 23 April Reply

    Love your articles Colin – always so helpful and practical, thank you!

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