You will I hope be familiar with the Ten Point Test by now, and may have even used it to check whether your storyline is robust.
As much as I think this is a robust tool, the question for testing the context has been niggling me as incomplete.
Having ‘noodled on it', I now have some thoughts on how to improve that question.
Here's the new question: Is the context timely, topical and tight? Let me break that down for you.
Timely: Make sure the material is recent for the audience.
Try to avoid, for example, starting every project update with a description of the project which has been in play for some time.
Rather, use the context to remind your audience what you covered in your last interaction with them about that topic. For example:
Topical: Introduce aspects about the key topic that should be known to the audience.
This anchors your story around the right issue and sets you up to use the trigger to explain why you are discussing that topic with this audience right now.
It also doesn't surprise them with potentially controversial ideas that are unfamiliar to them and which may stop them reading further.
Tight: Keep it short, ideally less than 15% of the whole story.
If you find yourself going beyond that, you are most likely adding too much detail which flags two potential problems. You are
- explaining something, which means your audience doesn't know it and raises questions about whether it is appropriately ‘topical'
- about to bore your audience by ‘drowning them in data'
I hope that helps. More next week.