Would you ever bake a towering layer cake? Even if you’re up for the challenge, where and how would you get started?

It’s not so bad, though, if you break it down into manageable steps: Find a recipe. Read it carefully. Gather the ingredients. Grease the pans. Turn on the oven…

You get the idea. If you take things step by step, even a daunting goal feels more achievable. No matter what the goal is.

So when you want to convey a message effectively, follow the same model and take it step by step. Try these suggestions to get started: Grab a piece of paper. Picture who you’ll be communicating with. Now, jot down three main things they might need to know. Leave space between each one. Number them #1, #2 and #3. Next, brainstorm some ideas — tidbits, facts or comments — your  audience would benefit from knowing about each main thing. Thoughts or phrases are fine. Be sure to group together all of the ideas about the first main thing under #1, and so on until you’ve got about five ideas for each main point.

You’ve just shaped an organized framework of main points and supporting ideas aimed at a specific audience, customized to offer insights that will benefit and inform them. It’s effective communication.

All it needs from here is some frosting.