How to Explain Things Better
10:32:49 2024-05-07 199

1- Start with the most relevant information.

Give your listener the information or answer they’re looking for first. While context can be important, an audience might be more engaged if you tell them why they should be interested right off the bat. Try to tell your listener the most urgent information first, then dive into the nitty-gritty details after.

  • If you’re giving a work presentation about a new financial plan, you might start by saying that profits are declining, and then talk about the reason why.
  • If you’re explaining to your friend why his garden plants are dying, you might start by explaining that the soil has been watered too much, then talk about proper soil drainage.

 

2- Simplify complex ideas in 2-3 points.

Explain a couple of the main points and avoid using specialized language. It can be tempting to dive into everything you know about the topic right away. However, everyone has a different knowledge base, and this may confuse your listeners if they don’t know much about the topic. Instead, start with the basics, focusing on 2-3 major points that explain the bigger picture.

  • If you’re presenting to a group of people about a book you read, you might focus on talking about two of the main themes and give a couple of examples from the book that best show that theme.
  • If you’re teaching your daughter how to drive a manual car, you might tell her how to switch gears and then talk about what the car does when it shifts gears later.
  • If the audience is interested in learning more or if they have additional questions, then you can add details and break down your simple explanation into a more complex answer.
  • Before you explain something, try reciting what you’re going to say in your head or writing it down to make sure your explanation is going to make sense.

 

3- Provide Clear Explanations over Accurate Ones

Provide your audience with the basics rather than sweating over details. When talking about something you’re excited about, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to make sure that everything you say is correct. Sometimes, it can be better to come up with a simple explanation that isn’t completely correct but gets the point across.

  • If you’re explaining to your grandmother how Wi-Fi works, it might be better to explain it as something that allows you to connect your electronic devices to the internet than to talk about all the different technologies working together with radio waves.
  • If you’re presenting a history of black hole discoveries to a general audience, you might talk about black holes as vacuums that suck up light and then go into detail about their mass or electric charge.
  • If someone asks you a question, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “Let me get back to you on that.” You can always research more and come back to the conversation later.

 

4- Use similes, metaphors, and analogies.

Compare your topic to something the audience knows already. If your audience can “see” what you’re trying to explain, they can not only understand it better but remember it after the presentation is over. Try to use similes, metaphors, or analogies to tie your topic to something the audience is already familiar with.

  • Simile: Use “like” or “as.” “Blood vessels are like highways and the blood cells are like cars.”
  • Analogy: Compare two unlike things based on a shared similar trait. “Your phone’s storage is like a cupboard because it gets full when you put too much in it.”
  • Metaphor: Use a word or phrase that takes on the meaning of another word or phrase to talk about similarities between the two. “Your eye is a camera and the cornea is the lens.”

 

5- Create a mnemonic.

Images, acronyms, or rhymes can make the information easy to remember. Mnemonics are memory devices that can help your audience recall larger pieces of information and keep them engaged. Acronyms are a popular mnemonic device. A few other mnemonics you can include in your explanation might be:

  • Name mnemonics: ROY.G.BIV is a way to remember the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
  • Rhyme mnemonics: Create rhymes that are easy to recall, like in “I before E except after C.”
  • Chunking: If you’re remembering a long number like 847382985, try to “chunk” it into smaller numbers, like 847, 382, and 985.
  • Storytelling and image mnemonics: To remember who Rosa Parks was, imagine a woman sitting on a bench at the edge of a park, surrounded by roses, waiting for her bus to show up.

 

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