Context is everything

How long would it take you to cover five miles on foot?

Depending on your level of fitness, your answer would probably be somewhere between 30 minutes and three hours.

And you’d be wrong.

Because what I didn’t tell you is that the five miles start at Everest base camp in the Himalayas and go straight up the world’s highest mountain. Even if you made it to the summit, you’d be most unlikely to cover the five miles in less than two days.

That’s the thing with information: it’s all about context.

And that’s why the first job of everyone who communicates inside a business – whether you’re the CEO or a junior project manager – is to provide a context that will make the information meaningful.

What do people need to know? What’s it got to do with them? Why should they care?

Until you can answer those three questions clearly and simply, you may as well not bother communicating.

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