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When conveying a complex topic, you want to make sure your structure is:

1. Visible

Use a Question-and-Answer structure and make your Questions the section headings in the body of your report. The mind responds with curiosity to a provocation — making the reader want to read on. For the author, you stick to answering the exam question, driving real focus and discipline.

2. Digestible

The mind naturally chunks information into groups. Help your reader out by grouping the elements of your paper into no more than 5 key sections (with questions as headings). Why 5? Because the average person can hold 5 concepts or ideas in their short-term memory. Address more than 5 big questions and your reader may begin to lose the thread of your argument.

3. Robust

Ensure your structure passes the MECE test (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive). Mutually Exclusive simply means that there’s nothing muddled, i.e. no ideas or questions are overlapping, and Collectively Exhaustive means nothing missing, i.e. no gaps. This concept is used to break down a complex subject into its component parts. It helps you to avoid muddled thinking and blind spots, so you can be confident that you’ve covered all your bases.

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Where can I find other videos like this?

You can find all our bite-sized videos on the BI Academy:

  • Log into your Board Intelligence platform on any web browser.
  • Click the “Academy” icon in the top ribbon.
  • Use the search bar to find a specific video, or if you’d like to browse all our best practice content, simply hit “Course & Learning: Best Practice for Effective Meetings.”

You can also find our suite of best-practice templates within the BI Platform (under the “Templates” icon in the top ribbon). These provide a starter for ten on the questions likely to be on your readers’ minds for particular topics and help you to structure your thinking in a logical and robust way.

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