Talent Development Centre

Breaking Down Complex Ideas So Anyone Can Understand Them


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As you get more senior in your IT contracting profession, you naturally become more specialized and knowledgeable in your field. While you learn more and more, you begin to realize how much others don’t understand terminology and situations. Because of your extensive experience, it all comes naturally to you, but in reality, it’s remains complex for the Average Joe. This gets especially frustrating when trying to explain to a client why they should take a certain route in a project or, vice-versa, why they should not implement the solution they want to.

We’ve provided some advice in this area before on the Talent Development Centre, including How to Deal with Recruiters Who Have No Clue What They’re Talking About and how to handle Those Non-Technical People Who Work on a Tech Project. Recently, The Muse also shared some ideas for breaking down complex ideas so anyone can understand them. Here’s what they suggest:

  1. Get to Know Your Audience: Find out their background, what motivates them, and how they prefer to communicate. This way you can use their common knowledge to decide how to best explain your idea.
  2. Choose the “One Thing” They Should Understand: If people have to tackle too much new information at once, they’ll get confused or forget it. Instead, focus on the critical details that they must understand and remember.
  3. Give Context and Use Examples: Put everything into context by painting a verbal picture and showing exactly how the situation relates to the audience’s life. This makes the problem more tangible and the solution more appealing.
  4. Watch Your Language: Use simple, every day language, rather than long terms that may seem impressive. If you must use acronyms, jargon or highly-niche phrases, take the time to explain what they mean and how they relate.

How do you explain complex situations and terminology to your teams or recruiters? Please share your tips and tricks for other IT professionals in the comments below.

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