Good examples

Mark Twain once said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Unfortunately, when you’re put on the spot to conjure up a good example for a given situation that you know you have seen, it’s really hard to do. Why is that?

A good example is one that is easy to understand, easy to relate to and highly relevant. But, it’s also contextual. And the effectiveness of the example is often related to a context that the requestor has in their own head.

A strategy to give good examples is to try to uncover the intent of the requestor before giving the example. Different examples will be deemed good if the intent behind “any examples” translates to “…so it helps me understand” or “…so I know and understand if it relates to my case” or “…have you done it before” or possibly even the “…so I trust you know what you’re talking about”.


Offer to provide more than one example and let your audience decide which one they would want elaborated. Here are some examples:

  1.  If it’s to ensure and enforce the understanding of a theoretical concept, select a simple and descriptive example.
  2. If it’s to gain confidence that it’s relevant and applicable, select a recent example that best matches the environment or context of the requestor.
  3. And if it’s to build trust, provide one or two that you have first-hand knowledge of and can go into depth explaining.

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