Context – Essential – the Best “Delivery”…

There can be a fine line between insufficient information and too much. Having said something previously about insufficient information, and for now reserving the issue of too much information or TMI for sometime in the future, I want to dwell a bit on how much information is just enough. Stand by for a few posts on this topic – it is broad enough to write entire books about. This morning though, I have been pondering context and how to deliver it effectively. If one knows the context, it becomes much easier to convey just enough information in a conversation, to make prudent and timely decisions, to impart essential and meaningful facts, or to simply tell a good story.

So, context – the classical Who, What, When and Where come to my brain. These elements provide a point of reference that sheds light on the relevance and intrigue of the Why and How. The Why and How is the “story”, and context is essential to “set the stage” and establish the importance of the story before it is told – to “suck you in”.

Comedians are masters at communicating context. Too little and you don’t get the joke, and too much and you lose interest in the joke before you have heard it to the end. Comedians “craft” the context to expose if concisely, and they personalize it to capture your attention and keep your focus. When you know just enough context, they unload the story on you – the “punch line”. If the context was sufficient and concise, and it resonated with your own experiences, you erupt in riotous laughter!

E-mail is also highly efficient at delivering context. The From, Subject and Date information in the header can lay out the context remarkably well. If the sender thoughtfully composes the Subject line, the recipient knows the entire context – all that is necessary to assess the priority of the communication and perhaps even a summary of it – in one line. Some E-mail spammers are becoming highly skilled at crafting context in the subject line to entice you to open up the e-mail. I think that we have to do something very innovative to battle the spammers – I have some novel ideas – more on that later…

Yes, today I have two new role models to study and emulate: comedians and e-mail spammers… With their help, I will improve my skills for delivering context that is sufficiently complete, enticingly personal, and yet concise lest I lose your rapt attention!

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