Doing the Two Step

Two Step Communication
Why is Picasso here? Read Mitch’s article to find out!

I am a habitual reader of Mitch Jackson’s Communication Tips, and recently Mitch posted an article that I thought you might find interesting about the two-step process for making a point.

Mitch called his article “Make your Point Using this Two-Step Approach“.

In the article, we see Mitch develop a presentation strategy that involves a “big picture” beginning, followed by a more detailed analysis.

For my part, I find the technique Mitch sets out to be an excellent way of communicating persuasively in any number of contexts, so I thought I would set out a few specific uses that young lawyers can put this to.

Written Communications (Legal Drafting)

Mitch Jackson has used the example of the Courtroom and presentation skills, but I think the basic premise can also be used in any written communication.  As we’ve seen in my legal drafting articles in the past, one of the big hurdles to get across when you’re writing to someone is to make the point clear and unambiguous.

The two step process can assist here.  You being by setting out precisely what the letter hopes to achieve, and then drill down into the specifics as required.   By painting the bigger brush strokes first, you can also ensure that you have it firm in your own mind what the overall shape of the letter is supposed to be, so you don’t accidentally end up drawing a vase of flowers instead of the lighthouse that you initially intended.

Performance Reviews/Performance Appraisals

I know that these are still happening around the place, and the two step process can be used here too on a more personal level.  If there’s an issue to be addressed (whether your own or somebody else’s) you can start by articulating the larger issue, and then go into the specifics.  For example “Well Bob, I think that I need to find some strategies to meet my budget this year” (big picture) followed by “It seems to me that I’ve been doing 75% of the firm’s pro bono work, which is great and everything but is killing my ability to meet budget” (starting to drill down).  That’s a simple example, but I’m sure you get the point.

Want more on performance reviews or appraisals?  Try this article.


I’ve written about giving better presentations a few times, and here this strategy can be really useful (which is probably why Mitch has used it in his article too).

A word of caution, however, about this – what you don’t want to do in a presentation is to actually give away the substance of your talk in the first 5 minutes.  I know the old adage “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell you what you told them” is still repeated, but it’s got to be read in the context of an effective presentation – obviously you’re not repeating yourself 3 times.

So in a presentation by all means paint the big strokes around your picture, but ensure that the detail still has something to offer the participants – otherwise they are going to tune out after your introduction!

Got any more scenarios whether doing the two-step can help you out?  Let me know in the comments!

Happy Lawyering!

  • Chris- Really like how you expanded these concepts to written communications and performance reviews. Taking things even another direction, also applies to oral discussions and negotiations. I sure do like what you’re doing with you blog. Great material!

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