Ground General Information with Examples

Another way to add credibility is to add examples to illustrate your points. Examples are especially effective in converting general statements into understandable and practical information. For instance, instead of saying "We are working to care for the environment," say "We are recycling plastics, glass, aluminum, and paper in our efforts to care for the environment." The former sentence is general, the latter is specific.

Jed, a financial analyst, has to present a monthly report to senior executives at his automotive supply company. "It's tempting to make sweeping statements to summarize the financial picture, but I've learned that doing so only frustrates the executives and makes me look unprepared. I now always include examples."

Jed's handout at a recent presentation included monthly data and summary statistics, plus a one-page sheet listing trends and their impact on the company. One trend he noted was "Worldwide rubber production increased 2 percent last month. Fineguard, our major rubber supplier, expects prices to go down by 1 percent in the coming months. This price reduction will impact tires, windshield wipers, and gaskets."

Jed added, "I used to report just the facts. By adding the examples of where the savings will be felt—in which products, produced by which suppliers—I help the executives see the strategic implications of the facts.

It's not that they don't know the strategic implications themselves; my report merely provides a shortcut for them."

Note that it's also a way for Jed to appropriately signal that he, too, understands the strategic implications of his analysis. Not only does adding specificity increase reader interest and enhance credibility, it boosts the writer's reputation as an expert.

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