How to struggle with your explanations?
All the day you might run into the situation to explain problems, defects, situations or environment. Very often your listener or the audience is not aware of the underlying technical details. Or they do not have the knowledge to understand the details at all.
This episode tells you 6 ways to struggle for sure with all of your explanations. But it also shows you an approved ways to convert even very complicated nerd details into an understandable manner.
Be sure that you struggle
If you want to ensure your failure follow these six behaviors:
- Go deep into details
- Use inadequate language
- Assume too much knowledge
- Drop facts and connections
- Be impatient if the listener does not understand initially
- Assume that after your presentation everything is clarified
If you follow at least half of them you can be assured that your description of the situation will not be understood by anybody outside of your knowledge. A perfect way to stay inside of your cage of expertise.
However, if you want to provide better descriptions, more understandable reports or you simply want to be understood if your run into problems, then have a look at the next paragraph.
How to explain exceptionally?
People understand stories. People like stories. And people like comparisons. If you start to describe your situation with a picture, then that’s already a big step forward. A picture is worth a thousand words. But the problem might be to find the right picture. Or to strip down the picture to the very basics the audience gets the point of your problem.
A different approach, I reguarly prefer, is a metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison which does not emphasize the differences, but the similiarities. That means you pick and idea out of your experience. This idea should be common to your audience, too. Then you compose a story or the comparison around this idea to explain the much more complicated other situation or problem.
The essential point is that you have understood the pattern or the skeleton of your situation. You need to abstract this pattern and look for similiarities to find an appropriate metaphor.
Let’s assume you have drawn out this pattern. Then you can use the following anchor-points to find the story for your metaphor:
- Take something out of your environment. Something around you. Look for similiarities in your direct surroundings.
- Pick natural topics like fruits, trees, wood, animals, techniques, mechanics, etc. Something your listener should be familiar with.
- Use common understanding topics. DO NOT USE politics, religion or ethics for finding metaphors. They might be misunderstood or offensive.
- Be as exact as possible. Find a metaphor which is not failing at once. But do not exaggerate. There is no need for absolute correctness. Only the original situation will fullfill such a request.
- Let the audience rephrase the situation. This lets you check what exactly they have understood.
- Do not get stucked on a wrecked metaphor. If you remark that your metaphor is failing in some particular point, do not hesitate and rephrase it. Introduce additional details or restrictions. Or drop it finally and take something else.
With every approach, with every tail, with every explanation, your audience will grasp a little bit more of the original topic. Thus any failing metaphor is also an indication that your audience gets more specific and closer to the subject.
You need to excercise a lot to tell metaphors quickly. It’s a lot about fantasy, but it’s also a lot about extracting the pattern of the situation. You need to lift yourself onto a meta-level of the situation’s description that you can use metaphor’s gracefully. Excercise a lot. Throw away metaphors as quickly as needed. Try another one. Your audience will be happy to see your effort and your eagerness to let them understand.