Chunking Up - How to get the big picture, or the big idea

Have you found that when you are talking to someone they just do not understand the details you are explaining. It is like they think you are too technical and giving too much information.

If your audience does not understand the details or the low level explanation you are giving, they will soon "switch off", their eyes will glaze over and their minds will start thinking of other things like what is for dinner tonight.

When you are delivering information, you must be able to deliver the information a level the audience can identify with. Sure you can go a little bit deeper now and again, but to dive straight into deep details could alienate your audience.

We will discuss a technique you can use to empower yourself to rise up from the details to help get the audience "back on track".

Chunking Up is a technique used in order move from a specific and detailed topic, phrase or word to its more broader general sense.

Used effectively, Chunking UP up will allow you to create mutual understanding and agreement of a possibly complicated Chunk - topic, phrase or word. Chunking Up is very effective for mediation and meetings to get people to see your big picture and what your "Big Idea" is (this would then need to be backed up by chunking-down and chunking-across).

General questions used to help you Chunk Up are:

  • What is this an example of ?

  • What is this a part of ?

  • What would this result in ?

  • What is the intention ?

  • What purpose does this serve ?


One thing to bear in mind when Chunking Up (or down or across) is that there may be many possibilities, so you should decide what your area of interest, or "Domain", is. This will help to keep your Chunking relevant to your subject.

Let us choose an example Domain of "Border Security"

One of the things we want to discuss about "Border Security" is the issue of bringing into a country foreign "Food", so we will use "Food" as our start Chunk.


To Chunk UP - Revisit the questions above and apply them to the chunk "Food" in the context of the Domain "Border Security", you might get the following:

information chunking up example

The diagram above is an example of a very simple "Chunk Map"
Let us Chunk UP again:

another information chunking up example

Let us Chunk UP again:

and another information chunking up example

As you "Chunk UP" you will notice the information becomes less specific and detailed but allows the audience to understand the general ideas of the communication. The resulting Chunk Maps that form also allow you, the author, to visually see the specific relationships between your chunks of information - this in turn allows the possibility of previously un-thought of chunks and relationships to come to mind so enhancing your core research.

Additonally, the visual Chunk Maps allow you, the author, to compliment the Chunks by investigating other related chunks through the use of, for example, a dictionary, thesaurus, internet searches etc.

While Chunking UP results in the specifics becoming more broad and high-level, it does leads to greater understanding by the audience. Once the mutual understanding is reached, you would then "Chunk DOWN" to become more specific about your meaning as you lead your audience on the "Journey of Persuasion" and ultimitley influence their decision and understanding to the way you want.

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