Ever have to put together an extended outline or table of contents and struggled to make it work? Yeah. Me, too. But I think I've found a much faster and easier way to produce one. And the funny thing is, I've had this tool in my kit for a long time. But it wasn't until the other day that I realized how useful it would be in this particular use.
It's called the Idea-Details©* and it looks like this:
I realized that if I used this little strategy for each topic, I could generate short descriptions in no time. (Note: You don't have to have all three types of details in each description, but you do want at least one, if not two, types of details).
Building a better outline
Here's the process we're using (yes, this is a work in progress. We at the drafting stage now):
- Determine topics
- Create Idea-Details for each
- Review each one with the team and make changes as necessary
- Research and draft items
- Review drafts and make changes as necessary
- Enjoy your completed document
I think you could skip step three if you've got a small team. We don't.
Quick and to-the-point
What's extra cool about this is that it's so fast and straightforward. And by forcing me to think about the most important thing for each topic and only 3-5 details per item, it keeps me focused on the ultimate consumer of the information. Always good.
* More uses for Idea-Details:
- Writing Linkedin recommendations
- Preparing a conference blog post
- Creating short forms, like status updates
- Preparing slide decks