Often we procrastinate before providing a written or verbal message. A possible reason is that we don’t have a quick, effective way of organising our information. There is just too much information, or we don’t know how to knock it into an appropriate, usable pattern.
There is a solution: practise organising your information effectively and you’ll be more motivated to communicate timeously and effectively.
Let’s look at the background: in preparing a message remember ‘GAPS’. We need to Gather information either from searches, through speaking to people in our network or from our own experience base. We must be able to Access that information when we need it. It’s pointless having the information if we can’t find it or access it. We then need to Process the information in order to Share it.
Our emphasis in this article is on Processing the information and this involves developing a clear message which is logically presented and which your audience or readers can follow. In order to do this, you need a systematic sequence which will enable the listener or reader not only to follow, but to remember what you have said. (Sharing)
The following are some of the many patterns for organising your ideas and materials for the body of your message. In reality, most of us use a combination of these methods. However, we often get stuck in the ways we use automatically and we can possibly improve on those. So, try experimenting with new ways of organising your information.
- Chronological (time) order
Yesterday, today, tomorrow (past, present, future) or
Historical sequence – 1st period, 2nd period, 3rd period or
Recurring sequences - summer, autumn, spring, winter
- Criteria order (ascending or descending)
complexity (simple to most complex) or
importance (least important to most important) or
urgency (least urgent to most urgent) or
other criteria (an example could be - necessary to know, should know, nice to know)
- 1st 2nd 3rd - articulate each
- A B C (could be used similarly to 1st, 2nd, 3rd)
- Letters spelling a word
e.g. PMB, CARD, ACE, aeiou, your initials
For example, PMB could stand for ‘people’, ‘marketing the city’ and ‘business developments’.
- Journalistic – Who? How? When? Where? What? Why? Which?
- Response or feedback
The same order as the document to which you are responding or
Any of the methods mentioned in number 8 below
- Problem solving, how to improve or clarifying issues
Strengths, weaknesses, how to improve or
Define the problem, explain, offer a solution or
Problem, possible solutions, best solution or
Symptoms, prevention, cure or
Cause and effect or
Resemblances, differences or
Stop, start, continue or
Theory, practice, demonstrate or
ADO – advantages, disadvantages, other
- Random categories
Thinking, feeling, doing or
Auditory, visual, kinesthetic or
Stop, look, listen or
Different categories (or aspects) or
Different perceptions of an issue
Organise your information effectively. It will help you to clarify what you wish to convey and make it easier for your audience to follow and remember your message.