Everything you ever needed to know in one sentence

I am reading The Little Black Book of Innovation: How It Works, How to Do It. The author Scott D. Anthony proposes a 28–Day Innovation Program. In the book, he presents each day with what I find to be a useful editorial/graphic technique: a two–column table that tells the reader exactly what’s going on.

On the left–hand side he poses that day’s Central Question.

On the right–hand side he provides a One–Sentence Answer.

Using a clear visual layout, Anthony has framed the important points that provides context to all that follows. From pages 88 to 244 you, the reader, can skim the text for the 28 essential elements of his program, and return to each chapter for greater detail and substance. The presentation echoes the call for Words in Tables, an alternative to the overused bullet list espoused by Jon Moon in his book, Clarity and Impact.

In a book all about innovation, somebody—the author? editor? page designer?—decided to use an innovative technique so the reader could make a quick study of some useful information. About innovation.

This is another example of giving readers what they want and need. Readers want to get to the point, and enable the reader to get there fast, despite how much additional information the author feels there is to share.

How Could This Be Used in Other Media?

Presentations
Give your conclusion in the first slide. The audience will know everything they need to know, and each additional slide will only strengthen your conclusion.

Speeches
Like presentations, state your conclusion first by telling them why you’re standing there in front of them. It is said that the author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie’s, final words were “I can’t sleep.” There are many famous last words from famous speeches, such as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” or Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” but in the businessworld, speaking typically requires less drama and more information.

Home Pages
You use your website for communication. Your home page is the first thing a user sees. Give the conclusion first! Don’t make the user go to About Us, or Solutions, or Our Products. Answer the question, solve their problem before they go elsewhere.

Getting to the point

David Ogilvy, known by his peers as the “father of advertising” summed up the qualities of a good advertisement when he reflected on his famous advertisement for Rolls–Royce, that led off with a quote from an English automobile magazine that had appeared 20 years earlier. “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls–Royce comes from the electric clock.” Ogilvy added simply, “It was a good ad. All facts. No adjectives. All specifics. Sold a lot of cars.”

The same may be said for other styles of good nonfiction.

Get to the point.

Posted by Frank J. Mendelson | Business, Business Communications, Communications | Comments 0 |
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