Making info more useful

Are there changes that can be made in the information to make it more useful?
That depends on the context of use. Obviously making the information more sophisticated is of no benefit to newbies. Making it more simplistic is counter-productive for adepts. That's where digital archives with search functions make information more useful. There can be a wide range of presentations of the same idea for different audiences, levels of sophistication and potential use-contexts.

What about reaching a particular audience with a common level of current understanding?
  1. If the information is new to them, then it will be more useful if it's clear, well organized and evocative of feelings. That's the province of storytelling, visual aids and bullet points.
  2. If the information already appears useful to them, it will be more useful if they receive practical tips, shortcuts or game cheats to get more or better results using the information. That's the territory of hands-on learning, job-aids and best practices.
  3. If the information has been used enough that it's become apparent that "it doesn't always work", it will be more useful to receive troubleshooting guidelines to diagnose potential errors of omission, perilous assumptions or excessive effort. That's the realm of case studies, communities of practice and systems views of whole situations.
What-if the information appears objectionable rather than new, useful or troublesome?
That's a set-up to become too informative, propagandistic and pushy. The context of the audience is ruled out by fear of those lurking objections. That antagonistic context needs "equal airtime" to induce them to lower their defenses and open their minds. By acknowledging their concerns, they will reconsider their objections. The informative presentation needs to include a "devil's advocate" or contrarian viewpoint to shoot down the one-sided sales pitch. By voicing those objections, respect is shown to them along side the expertise showing them to be misinformed.

Why don't more presenters "shoot holes in their own arguments" to get more buy-in?
They aren't striving to make their information more useful to others. They don't care what context their audience is in. They assume their job is to be informative as-if everyone is a newbie. They provide information as a thing to consume, not a process to go through, an experience to share or an extreme to resolve into a balanced whole.

How would you shoot down that argument about most presenters?
I'd start by saying "I could be wrong about this":
  • It's smart to act like you're the only one who's right if you really are informing a group who are totally wrong and incapable of coming to the same realizations that you have.
  • It's wise to stick to your guns when you're clearing up wild rumors or insane speculations.
  • It's better to not shoot yourself in the foot when you've already put your foot in your mouth and regret what you've implied.
  • You're better off to make a straightforward presentation if it covers both sides of the issue with a balanced approach in order to get the desired results.

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