Moving up and down the ladder of abstraction

The ladder of abstraction: a helpful communication tool

The ladder of abstraction is one of the most useful communication concepts I know.

Introduced by the linguist Samuel Hayakawa in the 1940s, the ladder of abstraction has two ends: at the top end are abstract things; concepts like integrity, trust, freedom and sustainability. Such concepts can be noble and meaningful. But they are definitely abstract: you cannot touch them and they don’t paint pictures in your head. Read more…

Laying the scent

Information scent: are you giving reader's the right cues?

Usability experts compare website visitors to carnivores.

Imagine a cheetah in the Serengeti.

When she picks up a scent, she will follow it. But the scent has to get more promising. If it doesn’t, she will not continue the hunt.

The visitors of your website are the same. Read more…

A way to get unstuck

Writer's block: the most likely reason why you are stuck

You type this. But it doesn’t work and you delete it.

You type that. But it doesn’t lead you anywhere.

You type some more but you’re not getting off the ground.

You’re stuck. Read more…

The lost connection

PowerPoint impacts the interaction with your audience

At a presentation the other day, the technicians struggled to connect the speaker’s laptop.

The speaker showed a great reaction.

He left his PowerPoint-script behind and spoke off the cuff.

And it was wonderful – wonderful, informative and inspiring.

20 minutes later, the technicians got the laptop connected. Read more…