Sorting out your Message

Sorting out your Message

Whether you are capturing requirements, writing a specification, giving a presentation or drawing up a contract, it is important to structure your thoughts so that your target audience easily understands them.

Key to this is grouping: Try and divide what you are working on into an easily manageable number of main themes – the ideal number is 3. Then create further similar sub-divisions within these themes until you have captured everything you want to have in your message, but in a structured way.

Step 1:
Think of a rough title for your message and enter into the top level of the template below.

Step 2:
Get down all your thoughts on a piece of paper and then see if you can find 3 or 4 main themes which jump out at you; Give each one a rough title and enter these into level 2 of the template.

Step 3:
Choose a colour for each theme. Go back through your list of thoughts and allocate each one to a particular theme by highlighting it in that theme’s colour.

Step 4:
Go through each theme one by one, look at the number of thoughts you have allocated. If this is only 3 or 4 then proceed to give these rough titles and enter these in the template at level 3. For a larger number you will need to repeat steps 3 and 4 to create sub-themes and possibly sub-sub-themes etc. until you have fully structured your message.

Step 5:
Review your structured message. Remove any thoughts or themes which do not reinforce your main message. Then refine the titles for the themes and sub-themes.

You now have a clear and structured message which can be presented in a format of your choice.