Sign in

How to Explain Complex Ideas so People can Understand You

Working alone or in a team— there will always come a time when we will have to break down one of our ideas to somebody. When that happens, we should be fully prepared how to approach the situation, so that our ideas are met with an open mind and fully comprehended.

But what is the secret to the successful explanation of ideas and intentions? Here are a few tips how to do so:

1. Know your audience

The key to a good presentation is not hidden in the presenter, but in their audience. Therefore, in order to deliver an effective speech, we should get to know our audience first: Who are they? What are they like? What is their aspiration in life? By understanding who you are speaking to, you are able to try and find a common ground or experience to decide how best to explain your idea.

Of course, that is the case only when you have the time to prepare for the meeting. What happens if you have to improvise? Well, asking your audience whether they know anything about the topic beforehand will not hurt anyone— as a matter of fact, it might only help both sides!

2.  Provide Some Background and Examples

Once you have a clear idea about who your audience is, you need to make sure that you can actually deliver your idea in a clear manner.

The way you decide to explain your idea matters. You must make sure that you are eloquently using your language, examples, and terms so that your audience can paint a mental picture of whatever you are presenting. By providing as much information as possible, you are making it easier for your listeners to grasp what you are delivering to them.

3.  Choose the “One Thing” Your Audience Must Understand

When something is too complicated, people are most likely to be confused by it, or to even forget about it. So, how exactly are we supposed to present the complex information in a memorable fashion, while give the audience a better chance at processing said information?

It all comes down to asking yourself these two questions

– If my audience will only remember one thing about my explanation, what is that “one thing?”

– And, why should my audience care about this “one thing?”

This instantly creates focus for you to pick and choose the information you deliver (and how you deliver it), and makes it more likely your audience will get what you’re trying to say.

4. Be Mindful of Your Language

Using long and difficult words might seem impressive, but it rarely helps anyone understand what’s being said. Therefore, you better strive to use simple, everyday language, avoiding any acronyms, jargon or uncommon phrases. If it’s impossible to avoid them— make sure to provide a proper definition.

Explaining complex ideas can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re working with someone who has no knowledge about your work whatsoever. However, as long as you focus on the most important information, be mindful of your language, and provide some context, you are already one step ahead on your way to make them understand you—and convincing them to go along with your idea.