Communications tip – conclude at the beginning

No matter what I read – novel, report or plan – I read the conclusion first. I can absorb the material better when I know the ending.

Red typewriter

Most often I read the last few pages of a novel first. I know that this seems to be counterintuitive for books like whodunits, where for many the enjoyment is in following the story. But reading the ending first works for me, and it has for many years. I enjoy the twists and turns as the story progresses far more knowing where things are ultimately going. It doesn’t diminish my interest in reading a book if I know the ending, because it is the unfolding of a well-told story that captivates me. It also saves me time – if I discovered the ending of a story by reading from start to finish, I know that I would have to go back to understand some of the details that I may not have appreciated the first time through. For me, this is all about context – the context of the ending helps me enjoy and fully understand the story.

In business, I have the same strong preference to read the conclusion of a report or plan first. Particularly in presentations, I want to know what the presenter is requesting or concluding. It sets the context for me and helps me to understand the supporting material that led to the conclusion or request. It’s a time-saver that helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

For the person providing the material, sharing the conclusion first shows consideration for and understanding of the needs of the audience. It’s a discipline that everyone needs to develop and regularly display.

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Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton is co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co-founder and CEO of SMART Technologies. She writes about education, entrepreneurship, business management, technology, innovation and other passions.