By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Here is an important technique. Experienced persuaders may already have it internalized, but it still helps to make it explicit and look at why it works. The technique is this: Begin 'big' with an abstract statement (This is a case about a betrayal of trust) and then get 'small' by filling in the details (So let's look at exactly the steps in which that betrayal occurred...). That sequence contrasts with the rational legal model which might prefer stacking detail upon detail until it finally reaches a conclusion. In spoken communication, the idea of leading with the broad statement works for the same reason it works to have headings in your written communication. Longtime readers of this blog know that I like headings. In addition to framing and breaking up a post, they also help the "skimmers" who want to broadly understand the focus of a post before they commit to reading it.
This step of putting the big picture first and then filling it in with details is a broadly important communication technique. It has been addressed recently by psychology blogging superstar Jeremy Dean, as well as legal persuasion blogging superstar Mitch Jackson. In different ways (tellingly, one more abstract and one more concrete), these two commentators both reinforce the good advice for communicators to first go big (by grounding their messages in broad or abstract language) and then to get small (by adding in the concrete implications and details). To practice what I preach, the big picture for this post is that it's about strategic sequence. The smaller details are that it is about Jeremy Dean's and Mitch Jackson's different takes on the technique and what that advice, plus my own take, has to say to litigators putting a message together.