This article could easily be subtitled, Five Principles of Any Hierarchy. Here are five aspects of hierarchy that will help you understand how you can apply its concepts to the visual parts of your presentation.
1. Rank. Most notable, hierarchy has been applied to the military. It is most obvious in the ranking of personnel, , , private, corporal, sergeant, etc. and then all the ranking of the officers.
We also understand rank not only as a noun but as a verb, , , “Bob out ranks Joe.”
And with all this hierarchical thinking comes a whole array of other implications, like seniority, status, authority, power and importance, plus the structure to make it all function.
2. Accountability. The above list of status, etc. raises the idea of one person being “above” and another being “below” another. The idea of reporting to, and responding to another person who is “in charge” or above comes into play.
These issues are such a part of our culture, you simply must put them to use as you present to your audiences.
3. Communication. As a public speaker, these “reporting to,” “responsible for,” and the “results demanded” are serious matters you deal with in your presentations everyday.
These structures are so steeped in hierarchical thinking (and tradition) that you can’t afford to ignore them. So whether you are speaking about answering tomorrows email, posting your next blog entry, or preparing your next keynote address, always be aware of the hierarchical implications.
4. Decision Making. “Tis the stuff leaders are made of. Decisions drive organizations. And, advancing through any hierarchical organization usually reflects the decisions one makes.
And these decisions are at the core of most hierarchical communications, accountability, structure and how people view one another.
5. Language, Protocol, and Ethics. Every group has its “buzzwords,” jargon and special language. A private in the army would not dare address a commanding officer without using the term, “Sir.”
And with all of this complex interaction, very detailed protocol evolves. Such structure as “The Ordination Ritual,” RHIP (rank has its privilege), and “pecking order” have been stamped on the minds of us all.
This all leads to ethical considerations that have become a huge part of every organizations operations.
But there is resistance to hierarchy. Many young people want it to go away. They want change. Problem is, every time one hierarchy is eliminates another one is established. With each new leader, new “order” formed.
Consider peoples’ thinking about what laws are passed, what monetary value Howard Stern makes to society (and other celebrities), or every teenagers’ favorite, texting “protocol.”
My idea is not to fight it, but to join it. Hierarchical thinking is how the adult mind orders, arranges and recalls information. As the advertising experts say, “you must enter into a conversation that is already going on in the mind of our prospects (audiences).
P.S. In my full seminar, How to Draw Your Message for Fun and Huge Profit, I teach four different ways to visually structure your hierarchy model for maximum effectiveness.