Getting to the essence of an idea by “boiling things down” can lead you to create less-than-compelling arguments and recommendations. Instead of boiling things down, think instead about creating a core idea that will resonate with your audience.
I hear it all the time: “Let’s boil this idea down.”
That’s a huge communication mistake.
What people are trying to do by “boiling it down” is get rid of all the extraneous information in surrounding their idea in order to find something crisp that they can share with others. The hope is that that crisp idea will be exciting and compelling.
Given I’m Italian, let’s make rotini. No, not spaghetti. I prefer rotini because it holds the sauce better.
How does one make rotini? You boil a pot of water, throw in a bit of salt, then throw in the rotini. You boil it until the pasta is soft to your liking. When you do all this, some of your water disappears into the air through a magical scientific process. When done correctly, you’re left with wonderfully firm yet tender rotini that’s ready to receive a generous portion of red sauce with pancetta and garlic tossed in.
No, this hasn’t turned into a cooking blog. Bear with me.
Let’s imagine the rotini is your idea. The water is all the extraneous stuff around your idea. When you boil your idea down and get rid of all the extraneous stuff, are you left with something crisp and compelling? No. You have a soggy, wet noodle.
Communicating ideas requires a different approach than boiling things down. It’s pretty simple. Try this instead…
Instead of boiling things down to get to your idea, start with the end in mind. What do you want your audience to conclude? Why should the be compelled by your idea? Have the clarity of a “core idea” – an articulation of what you want them to do and why they should do it. Something along the lines of “We should launch New Product X because it will generate an incremental $2MM of profit.” That’s the heart of your message.
After you have that core idea, think about how you’ll support it. Add in only the facts and evidence that directly relate to that idea. You’ll probably include things like a description of New Product X, the target market for the product, sales projections, and pro forma financials. When you look at the assembled evidence and say “there’s enough here to support my core idea,” you’re done with assembling your communication. Nothing extraneous.
When you take this approach of starting with the end in mind and building to support it rather than stripping away details from a mound of data that you’re boiling down, your communications will be clearer, crisper, and more compelling. Those characteristics will get you the “yes” you’re looking for from your stakeholder.
The next time you find yourself saying “let’s boil down this idea,” stop for a moment and reverse your thinking. First articulate that core idea and build from there. You’ll find you’re no longer serving soggy noodles when you take such an approach.
If you’d like to learn more about the method for generating a great core idea and building a compelling supporting argument, grab a copy of my book The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved. It’s on presale now on Amazon. CLICK HERE to get your copy. The book will walk you through a process for creating recommendations that resonate and move people to action.
Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!