Give the right amount of detail (think “Goldilocks”)

10th May 2017

In the story of the Three Bears, Goldilocks liked her porridge ‘just right’ – not too hot, not too cold.

Just like the people you speak to. They want your comms to be ‘just right’ – not too detailed, not too brief.

But what’s the ‘just right’ amount of detail?

Well, I’ve no idea.

It depends. On all sorts of things – the topic, what you think needs including, what they think does.

So how about this: next time you’re preparing a communication for someone, ask them in advance what level of detail they want. Some examples:

  • Asked to create a proposal? Say "Before I write it, let’s quickly agree the content you’d like in there. That way, it’ll contain everything you need without boring you with stuff you don’t”
  • Asked by your boss to write something for her? Ask her in advance what the main headings/sections should be, and the level of detail she wants
  • Running a meeting for your team? Ask them what they want in the agenda, and the level of detail they want

I know, I know… this Tip is hardly the most ground-breaking thinking, is it?

But just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it happens.

Ask yourself: last time you prepared a communication for someone, did you ask them in advance what they wanted?

And, if you didn’t, did the communication achieve what you wanted?

If not, you know what to do next time.

Action point

Today, someone will ask you to create a communication for them.

So agree in advance what’s to go in there. You want to agree at least two things: (1) the headings plus (2) level of detail.

Getting these two right is essential. But so are lots of other things. For more guidance on how to create comms that’ll help you sell, network, present, overcome challenges, say “no”, and so on – check out my online video club here.

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