How to Explain Things - Part 2

In the last post, I talked about Reference Points: a way to identify the starting point of any explanation.

The second step, logical chronology, tells you how to take your audience the rest of the way.

Logical Chronology

Logical Chronology is the act of presenting ideas in the order they need to be heard to maximize comprehension. This is done by starting with the most basic ideas and building on them towards more complex ones. 


Calories come from food. 
Your body burns calories as energy.
Extra energy is stored as fat.
In an energy deficit, the body converts fat back into energy.

Arrange those ideas any other way and they stop making sense because you needed to understand the first ones for the rest of them to stick.

Simplicity Precedes Complexity

When logical chronology is not followed, the audience is handed a bunch of information they can't process. If you've ever had to learn the rules of a board game from your friends, you've probably experienced this frustration firsthand:

"So all of us roll a die when it's our turn".
"Wait why."
"So we can move around the board. Oh and on some spaces you get money."
"Why are we collecting money?"
 "Because the goal of Monopoly is to collect the most money."
 "OH. Got it. So how do we collect money?"

Across all board games, the instruction manuals always begin with the same sentence: "The Objective of the game is to do X." That's because nothing else in the manual makes sense without it. 

Apply the same thinking to your rounds: only offer the judge information that they can process. Don't wait until the rebuttals to explain your studies or "clarify" your plan. Explain something brilliantly on your first run, and you'll save yourself some time and the judge some confusion.

Now Zoom Out

Logical chronology answers the question of how we explain arguments. But zoom out, and it answers even bigger questions: like how we structure entire debate cases.

For example:

Why do we present definitions before contentions?
We gotta know what words mean before we use them. 

Why do we read a Res Analyses before we read the value? We have to understand the res before we measure it.

Why do we offer evidence only after we've given it context?
Logical chronology. And also because of something known as the 80/20 Rule.


To practice logical chronology, try explaining something from scratch. Like the rules of solitaire. How to make croissants. How to clean white sneakers.

Truly discipline yourself. After your first run, check how you ordered your explanation to see if there's a better arrangement for it.

Logical chronology is the power to explain any process, regardless of the listener's past experience. The more you harness it, the more you master the art of explaining things.