30 January 2006

A simple recipe for effective communication

Alberto with one of his "recipes"

My friend Alberto Boin taught me a simple way to think about communication that is especially helpful when giving instruction or training materials. He uses the concept to design software, but it's applicable to any kind of learning design.

Whenever you want to capture a work flow or "how to do something" you just think about it as if it were a recipe. And think small -- could you fit it on an index card?

It's as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Headline
Your headline is the Result: What you want the person to learn or do. Example: "Chocolate Cake" or "How to write a memo."

2. Ingredients
What are the necessary components that you must have in order to do the thing? Example: Milk, eggs, etc., or "Working knowledge of C++."

3. Recipe
Step-by-step instructions that describe "how to make it" or "how to do it."

You will be surprised how useful this little concept is whenever you set out to communicate, especially in business environments when you want to get people to do things!

As usual, the key to success is simplicity.

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1 comment:

Dan Butler said...

Good article and approach. The smaller working surface of the index card leads to focused thinking. For short talks and sermons I have used the back of a business card for my outline. Forces me to stay within the bounds of reason with the topic.

~ Dan