Solutions: Preparing groupings


Well done for taking the time to watch the video and complete the challenge on ‘Preparing Groupings'.
Here are the solutions and suggestions as well as a short video with some mastery secrets to help you take these ideas further.


1. Grouping (or inductive) arguments can simultaneously contain both actions and reasons in the key line
Never. Grouping stories must group together like items, i.e. reasons OR actions, not a combination of both.

2. Groupings must be of the same logical kind of items (reasons, actions, examples, etc)
True. Items that are grouped together must logically belong together.

3. A grouping story should contain how many ideas at the key line?
A grouping can in theory contain an infinite number of points. However, we group like ideas together into manageable sets. Ideally, for the sake of your reader, you should try to have no more than five ideas in any one level within a grouping story. Also, limiting yourself to creating short lists pushes you to think harder about the relationships between your ideas.

4. In a grouping structure the ‘Answer' is supported by ideas that are dependent upon each other
False. In a grouping structure, the supports for the Answer must be independent.

5. When would you choose to organise your ideas into a grouping?
In any of these situations: when you need to tell your Audience either how or why something needs to be done, or, when you fear that your audience may be critical. A grouping structure allows you to provide several supports for your argument, so even if your audience is critical or unconvinced by one of your supports, they may still be swayed by the others. By comparison, a deductive structure is much more risky in such a situation as the supports are all linked.

6. Groupings must be MECE
True. Groupings should be Mutually Exclusive (separate) and Collectively Exhaustive (Complete). MECE is a great test to apply to our thinking.

7. When using a grouping structure, the ‘Answer' is probably true but not certainly true
True. A grouping is a group of ideas that lead you to think that another higher order idea is probably, but not certainly, true. The test is to marshal a strong enough case to convince.

8. Must the same structure be used underneath each point within a grouping?
No, but do whenever possible: it offers the reader a sense of predictability and comfort if there is structural symmetry.

9. What is wrong with this grouping?
Answer: Like all firefighters, Maude must renew her first aid certificate annually
Key line points:
– Maude's first aid certificate expires next month
– Maude should book in for the next first aid course
– Maude needs to check that the next course does not clash with her upcoming shifts or planned vacations
– Maude's supervisor needs to sign off on her participation in the course
All of the above! The key line points are not parallel; they do not have the same subject; they are not the same kind of thing (there is a mix of reasons and actions); and the Answer is not truly overarching them.

10. What is wrong with this grouping?
Answer: BigCo should learn to analyse big data
Key line points:
– BigCo needs to mine data to improve it's marketing effort
– BigCo will blow past it's competitors if it can understand big data
– Big data is really important to anybody who wants to market their products today
– Understanding big data is hard
All of the above! The key line ideas are not parallel, each point in the key line does not have the same subject, the ideas in the key line are not all ‘the same kind of thing’ and the Answer does not overarch the whole story.



The concepts that Gerard and I talk about in all of these videos are deceptively simple. The challenge lies not in their complexity, but rather in the application. As one of my clients said to me recently, it takes ‘determination and application'. In that light, we suggest that you start with the types of communication you prepare most: most likely emails. Don't shy away from the difficult things, but create some really great habits by working on frequent and routine communication first.

One of my favourite storylining successes comes from someone who took this approach. I ran a program in a law firm and one particular group was very lop sided: There were about a dozen senior lawyers, mostly partners, and one very junior person from the finance team. The workshop went well and when we returned two weeks later to talk about what they had learned and offer some coaching I asked them how they had all gone. The person who had made the most progress was the junior person from Finance because she had started with her emails and applied the techniques on every single one of them since.

In fact, the partners in the room had noticed a difference and had begun responding to her – often short – emails within minutes of receiving them, rather than often not responding at all which had been their previous practice. She was quite amazed at the difference that putting her ‘answer first' and backing it up with a couple of points made to her productivity (she no longer needed to chase them for a response) but also to the amount of enjoyment she gained from her work.

So, don't be too proud: start with simple and routine pieces of communication.

Mastery Secrets

We would love to hear from you at if you have any questions.

Kind regards
Davina and Gerard



Return to your course landing page