All posts for “Art of Explanation”
A couple of days ago I held The Art of Explanation, my first book, in my hands for the first time. What a feeling to finally see and feel it in its final form. Overall I'm quite pleased with the design and packaging of the final product. I wanted it to feel consumable, like something you could read on a cross-country flight. I wanted it to look inviting and interesting. I wanted it to be Common Crafty. See what you think... Here's the never-seen-before back cover. The all-important spine... Continue Reading
Sometimes, words are not enough. To grab an audience’s attention and make an explanation remarkable, explainers need ways to stand-out, to be interesting. Thankfully there are a growing number of resources that can help explainers turn their ideas into experiences that captivate audiences. I've listed a few below. (Note: I am not affiliated with the services below and receive no compensation from them). While you're thinking about these resources, consider this... These tools are helpful and... Continue Reading
Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, in my view, was remarkable because of how he chose to explain ideas. Politics aside, it was an great example of explanation at work. Last night we saw more evidence, via an interview with Jon Stewart, that explanation was his specific intent. Here's the video. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart A few key quotes: "I was determined to get the facts right and to simplify the arguments without being simplistic, I didn't want to talk... Continue Reading
Seattle investor and “startup guy” Chris Devore recently wrote about four categories of effort that will help founders show that their startup is growing and healthy. There are four important categories of effort that every startup team needs to keep in mind. Too much -- or too little -- weight in any one of these areas can lead to disaster when it comes time to raise the next round: The first three categories are: Product Sales / Distribution Recruiting All important points, but it’s the... Continue Reading
Late last week I got a text message from my politically-conservative brother in North Carolina that said “Has there ever been a better political speaker than Bill Clinton?” Indeed, wherever you stand on the political spectrum, it’s difficult to deny the effectiveness of Bill Clinton as a speaker. E. J. Dionne published an opinion in the Washington Post where he said: Bill Clinton is typically described as the empathetic, feel-your-pain guy. But his greatest political skill may be as a... Continue Reading
I don't often look to bathrooms, much less camping toilets for great communication, but this is an exception. In many state-maintained campgrounds in Washington State (and elsewhere), there are "vaulted toilets" with no running water. Like an outhouse, everything ends up in underground pit that must be maintained. This presents a problem. Campers sometimes use the toilet as a trash can, which makes for a difficult situation for the people who need to remove the waste. Inside these toilets... Continue Reading
We now have a fully functional home for the book at artofexplanation.com. Did I mention that it's available for pre-order? You'll find the trailer for the book (01:07) on the front page of the new website. I've included it here too: We're really psyched to have these things in place. Thanks to Jay and Anastasia at Juxtaprose for the hard work on the new site.
Think for just a minute about the specialists who make a difference in your company or organization. Let's say you're a product manager. An IT specialist may keep your computers and networks up-to-date and working smoothly. A marketing specialist may help you see opportunities to reach new customers or help to identify features customer want. A programming specialist may help you discover ways software can make the product more powerful. Together, these specialists and others become a... Continue Reading
The best I can remember, my formal education in written communication ended in formal letter writing. We learned where to put the return address and date, how to write a salutation and where to sign it. While these are still valuable skills, in the past ten years, I have used this knowledge approximately zero times. Yet, I have likely written tens of thousands of emails over the same period. No one ever taught me how to communicate with a computer or email. It just happened - I got a... Continue Reading
Imagine for a moment, the person sitting across from you in a meeting is introducing a new idea, but this time it’s different. She doesn’t start with a list of features or technical jargon. Instead, she builds the idea. She starts with context and connects her idea with ideas the group already understands. She packages her idea with clear language and visuals that invite everyone to understand how it works and why it makes sense. You can see the reactions - heads nod approvingly, relevant... Continue Reading
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