Once you’ve amassed all the analytical and emotional content possible through your presentation brainstorming, it’s time to narrow it down. Many of the ideas are unique and were possibly fascinating to uncover. But you can’t say it all—and no one wants to hear it all.
The ideas need to be filtered down to the points that succinctly support your big idea. The pages in this chapter have walked you through divergent thinking by generating ideas. You collected factual and emotional content and considered contrasting perspectives.
In the divergent phase, new options emerge. In the convergent phase, it is just the reverse: Now it’s time to eliminate options and make choices. It can be painful to let a once-promising idea fall away.–Tim Brown
Now it’s time for some convergent thinking. Divergent and convergent were identified by J. P. Guilford in 1967 as two different types of thinking that occur in response to a problem. Divergent thinking generates ideas, while convergent thinking sorts and analyzes these ideas toward the best outcome.
So hopefully, all the ideas you just generated give you some great creative choices to sift through.
In his book Change by Design, Tim Brown says, “Convergent thinking is a practical way of deciding among existing alternatives. Think of a funnel, where the flared opening represents a broad set of initial possibilities and the small spout represents the narrowly convergent solution.”
You may feel that every idea in your funnel is insightful and riveting. It took a ton of time to generate them! But now it’s time to sort and organize them—and you’ll need to kill some of them off. Kill them off? Yes; and the best filtering device you have to decide which ones must go is your big idea itself. Revisit it, and eliminate any idea you’ve generated that doesn’t clearly support your one big idea.
It’s a violent creative process to construct ideas, destroy them, group them, regroup them, select them, reject them, rethink them, and modify them. Use both divergent and convergent thinking processes repeatedly until you have the most salient content to support your big idea.
You don’t want contrast to hit the cutting-room floor during the vetting process. Filtering is very important. If you don’t filter your presentation, the audience will respond negatively—because you’re making them work too hard to discern the most important pieces.