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What is SCIPAB®?

Originally published in 2021 on Mandel Communications blog

SCIPAB® is a communications framework from Mandel Communications that helps you communicate more effectively. In a few quick sentences you convey the problem, suggest how to resolve it, and share the benefits of doing what you recommend.

  • Situation: Start with a relevant key point on the Situation—e.g., current state of their business, technology, industry, or plans—that your audience will agree with.
  • Complication: What is going on that’s complicating the Situation you just mentioned?
  • Implication: What’s the consequence of failing to act on the problem or opportunities you described in the Complication?
  • Position: What needs to be done to mitigate the Complication?
  • Action: What do you want your audience to do, believe, or understand as they are listening to you?
  • Benefit: How will taking your suggested recommended actions affect the audience? What will the outcome(s) be?

SCIPAB lets you grab your listeners’ attention within the first few seconds—when they are most attentive—and set the context and deliver the resolution in under 90 seconds.

You can use SCIPAB for all types of communications: one-to-one conversations, one-to-many meetings and presentations, sales calls, emails, voicemails, blog posts (see how we’ve translated this post into the SCIPAB framework below), and even when talking to family and friends.

It works just as well in the moment as it does in more planned presentations. The framework ensures you’re delivering all the pieces needed to pique someone’s attention quickly. SCIPAB also makes it very easy for the person receiving the communication to understand what you are trying to say and why it’s of value to them.

The SCIPAB® Framework

The first half of SCIPAB, the S-C-I, is all about setting the context from the listeners’ perspective. The purpose is to grab attention and show why the people you are communicating with will be interested in what you have to say.

  • Situation: State what you know about your listeners’ circumstances that is relevant to your discussion or presentation, e.g., current state of their business, technology, industry, or plans. This should be non-controversial, and something everyone agrees is true. You want people to be nodding their heads when you state the Situation.
  • Complication: What complicates the Situation? Identify the critical issues (changes, pressures, demands, etc.) that are impacting the Situation and creating problems, challenges, or opportunities. This Complication can be internal or external to an organization or group. What’s important is that it exacerbates the Situation you just mentioned.
  • Implication: How does the Complication impact things participants’ care about? Show the personal or business consequences of failing to act on the problems or opportunities described in the Complication. This should be compelling enough that it provides a sense of urgency.

The second half of SCIPAB, the P-A-B, communicates the resolution you are suggesting, what your listeners should do next, and what the benefits will be when they do:

  • Position: What is your Position or offer? Clearly state your opinion about what needs to be done to mitigate the problem or act on the opportunity.
  • Action: What do you want your audience to do, believe, or understand? Help listeners understand the role you want them to play or the questions you’d like them to consider during your presentation or conversation or in preparation. Use words like consider, discuss, explore, and understand.
  • Benefit: What are the key Benefits of taking the Action? What are the outcomes that will happen if they take your recommendation? Be as clear and specific as you can.

As an example, we’ve taken the topic of this blog—what is SCIPAB and why should you consider implementing it in your communications—and used SCIPAB to communicate it.

  • Situation: Scientists have shown that humans have an attention span of just 7 seconds.
  • Complication: You need their attention for much longer—even if you’re just asking them to read something as short as an email.
  • Implication: Without their attention, you won’t effectively deliver your message—whether it’s in an email, sales presentation, executive briefing, or something else entirely.
  • Position: SCIPAB is the simple, quick way to show your listeners why they should tune in—and stay tuned in.
  • Action: Take a look at the SCIPAB framework and think about how it might help you.
  • Benefit: With it, your emails will get read, your presentations will be heard, and your communications of all types will be more effective.

Whether you’re looking for large-audience training for thousands globally or more focused workshops for smaller teams in any geography, we'd love to talk to you about how SCIPAB can increase understanding and efficiency across your organization.

You can see our full set of Communication Skills courses here.

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