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Progressive Broadening

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Progressive broadening is a means of structuring a technical conversation such that useful information passes without elaborate preparation.

Use progressive broadening in groups of five to twenty-five when there is medium to high levels of shared interest but low to medium shared experience.

How it works

Conversation starts with the informal telling of a story. Stories often go like this: Here is what I did; it worked out well; I think I know why. The telling need not be polished or even complete. For complicated subjects one should focus on the part that most surprised or delighted.

The telling is followed by askings. The teller's audience now asks questions that clarify the story. The askers develop the parts of the story that most interest them while leaving it the teller's story. This is the first broadening.

The conversation broadens to discussion once the teller's story has been told to the audience's satisfaction.