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How to Communicate Big Ideas with Maximum Impact | Video

How to Communicate Big Ideas with Maximum Impact | Video

You have a big idea you want to present. It may be a result, an outcome, or a conclusion. Maybe it’s an insight you need to share or a recommendation you need to make. How can you communicate your big ideas with maximum impact?

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This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

The Mistake too many People Make When They Want to Communicate Big Ideas

The mistake too many people make is to dive straight into the details. And another common mistake is to tell a story. We did this, figured out that, checked something, and spoke to someone.

Project Management is not an art form. Your clients, sponsors, and stakeholders don’t have time for a recap of everything you did. They want the good stuff. And they want it Now!


Bottom Line Up Front

The Simple Approach to Communicating Big Ideas Starts with Your Key Message.

You might want a short introduction, but nothing more. If you do, an effective structure for that introduction is:

  1. Context or background
  2. New information (findings, complication)
  3. Set-up for the Big Idea – a rhetorical question works well

The Two Questions

Once you have stated your Big Idea, you can elaborate by answering the question your audience has in mind. This is likely to be either:

  1. Why?
    Justify your Big Idea
  2. How?
    What are the steps to do what you suggest

Just as a Work Breakdown Structure has a Key Line, so your elaboration on your Big Idea needs one.

Let’s start with the Answer to the Why question…

Give your reasons in a short, succinct way.

Keep the number to a maximum of three. Any more, and you will diminish the impact of your argument. We hear reason 8, which is minor, and forget reason 1. So, we intuitively feel all the reasons are this weak!

There is also something special in how humans receive lists of three.

Tell the audience there are three reasons, then spell them out concisely. If you need to give more information, you can go back to the first, describe it as reason 1 and elaborate on it.

Then move to number 2 and repeat.

If the Question you choose to address is the How question…

Again, three steps is ideal. But your priority here is not to persuade but to explain. However, if you want people to remember the steps, you need to keep the number low. If you have to, go up to 5 steps or possibly 7. No more.

George Miller suggests that our short-term memories can hold 7 +/- 2 items and my own tests show this is right. However, the number of people who can manage 8 or 9 is few, so hedge your bets and err on the low side.

I usually use 5 as a maximum if I want people to retain the information in their heads. So, to allow this, if there are more steps, I will cluster them into no more than 5 groups, with 3 or so steps per group.

This gives a Key Line of 5 or fewer items and sub-steps to elaborate.

If you need to address why and how…

Always address the ‘why’ question first. Otherwise, people won’t pay attention to the ‘how’, if they can’t understand the reason ‘why’.

And, sometimes, you will want to end with the What if? question

This is often the way to head off objections to your big ideas. Anticipate the risks and scenarios people will want to know about, and address them

Two More Communication Tips…

Tip 1

Always use plain language to communicate your big ideas. If you need to use jargon, explain the idea and then give people the label for it.

Tip 2

Keep your explanations as simple as you can, so that any intelligent person listening to you with little or no background can understand you – unless you are certain about the level of knowledge of your audience.

Carefully curated video recommendations for communicating big ideas:

And some Helpful articles…

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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