To Detail or not to Detail… That is the Question…


If communication is the key to everything in business then understanding how people like to be communicated with, their preferred way of communicating and taking on information will make the difference between poor, mediocre, good and great communication. And of course the outcome.

It’s easy to recall experiences we’ve had where the communication has been at best mediocre and at worse appalling and the outcome has been that we’ve not really understood anything, or have been left feeling confused and unsure. On the other hand, I’m sure that if you’re like me then you can recall times when, for whatever reason, we’ve not been the best communicator and have had to manage the situation.

There are many aspects to consider and understand and so take into account when communicating. And that includes detail… its not just important for the ‘how’ but also the ‘what’, especially if you want someone to take action or make a decision.

So what difference does the detail make?

  • Think about when someone talks to you about an issue and they go into lots of detail… at what point do you switch off? Even if they have something really interesting to impart or need you to make a decision is your attention held with all that detail?
  • Of course there’ll be times when you’ve a lot to think about and don’t really want anything else added to the list. But just check in with how you feel, on a day to day basis, if you’re presented with a mass of detail and someone wants you to make a decision at the end. Even more so if you didn’t know until the end that you have to make a decision.
  • Are you the type of person who relies on the executive summary and, only looks at the body of a report to get specific information, but on the whole can make your decision based on that information? Or do you devour the whole document and then have supplementary questions before you can make a decision?
  • Are you a headlines person who will ask questions as a follow up if necessary otherwise you can take that high level information and make a decision?
  • Knowing if someone likes the detail or the headlines is another part of the communication picture. When working with people you learn their preferences but when working with a new client its important to ask them. And if putting together a proposal then cover off both so that everyone gets what they need, the same with a presentation, talk or article.
Yes, it sounds like a lot to consider but I’m sure you already so this naturally to an extent, it’s about being more conscious of it, understanding why it’s important and remembering to use it with all your communications especially where you want someone to make a decision.

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