You've probably been in situations where someone is speaking and they seem to only focus on general ideas and concepts. They are not specific and you find it hard to relate the points to the real world. This is because their communication is more abstract.
The opposite may be even more prevalent. In this example, the person speaking is focused on very specific data points and examples. The data are interesting, but you find it hard to see the big picture. This communication is more concrete.
The best communicators are able to use both these ideas in tandem: a balance of abstract and concrete. You can think about this spectrum as a ladder: the ladder of abstraction. Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa developed this idea in 1939 in his book Language in Thought and Action.
When planning a presentation or classroom lesson, you can use the ladder to consider your points. You might ask yourself: Am I being too abstract? If so, move down the ladder to more concrete examples.
This video, 113th title, is now available for embedding, downloading, or displaying via the Common Craft video library. It's a part of our series on study skills and meant to help educators teach the concept of team work.
Using an example of a robot building competition, this video follows the story of two teams with different approaches to teamwork. Using their example, we can see what works, or not, for winning the competition. It teaches:
What all successful teams have in common
Why clear communication is more important than skills or experience
How to develop a sense of team strengths and weaknesses
This video, 115th title, is now available for embedding, downloading, or displaying in the Common Craft video library. It's part of our Internet Safety Series and meant to help build aware awareness of the issue of harassment.
In 2008, we took on the challenge of explaining the Electoral College in a way that was apolitical and easy to understand.
To be effective, it had to be timeless and use visuals to make the process clear. Today, twelve years later, the video remains one of our favorites and continues to earn attention. The only change we've made is to update the years we show at the beginning of the video.
I'm sure you've sat through presentations and felt confused and unmotivated. Often, it's not the information, but how it is presented. We want to help by sharing specific steps anyone can take to make their presentations clearer and more understandable.
When presenting information, it’s easy to be focused on sharing the right information. The problem is that information isn’t useful unless it is communicated clearly. This video shares useful tips that will help any presentation become more understandable. It teaches:
Why your presentation’s mission will increase clarity
Documents play the same role they always have, but how we create and share them has evolved significantly. This video explains online documents and how they differ from local documents that are saved on a computer. If you know students or anyone who needs a clearer understanding of online documents, this video will help.
For many years, documents lived on our computers. When online documents came along, they started to live on the internet and that changed how we created and shared them. This video explains how online documents differ from local documents saved on a computer. It teaches:
What makes a document local versus online
Why local documents represent a risk and make collaboration difficult
How to create and share an online document
Why collaboration is easier with an online document