Have you ever walked into a room and had no idea what was being talked about? The most recent occurance of this for me was a meeting that was covering some new technology for streaming a local church campus. There was a representative of the company there, who was explaining the minute details of this new software to the campus leader, a few techies, and myself. I listened intently to what the representative had to say. But as I look back, every other word that I heard felt irrelevant. I didn’t know what they meant, or why they mattered. Thankfully,I understood enough web content that I could make out the stuff I needed to know to master the software. However, I was lucky. Even my own boss had very little idea what was being explained. He tweeted me and said “Thanks for coming. I barely understand this stuff myself”.
An Outsider to your ideas
Imagine that! Your own boss being unable to understand intricate tech jargon that experts picked up easily!! That’s not just an embarrassing position to be in, but it means that you’re in a weak position for fixing and using the tool. But the speaker is even more of a hassle. By using unique lingo and terms, the speaker makes it harder to explain their ideas to students and laymen alike.
Science’s overdone details
Scientists are the worst with this. Science magazinePhysics Today noted that:
Scientists typically fail to craft simple, clear messages and repeat them often. They commonly overdo the level of detail, and people can have difficulty sorting out what is important. In short, the more you say, the less they hear. And scientists tend to speak in code.We encourage them to speak in plain language and choose their words with care. Many words that seem perfectly normal to scientists are incomprehensible jargon to the wider world. And there are usually simpler substitutes.
But scientists are not the only ones. Every field has terminology that it uses to exclusively describe their concepts. You can find rule-breakers in this field everywhere, from politics to sociology to even car repair.
How to Communicate Clearly
That’s why experts need to learn how to explain things clearly. If you can’t explain something in a way they understand, then they’ll look at you as though you are simply speaking another language. So, how do you speak clearly? The best way is to rely on simplicity of speech.
Can you KISS it?
Simplicity of speech is just a variation on KISS (AKA Keep it simple, silly!) However, the easiest way to simplify something is to It requires that you understand how much you know, and how much the listener knows. From there, you can explain something in a more effective state.
In order to find out what someone knows, you have to ask them smart questions. Asking questions like “Have you ever heard of bowel movement?” are excellent catalysts for building a conversational bridge between you two.
Explaining it simply to large audiences
For some of us, we are going to have to explain something to a larger group. That means that each person will have a different understanding of the topic. So, how do you make your topic simple for all of them without talking down to them?
The easiest thing is to ask simple questions: ”Who is my audience?” “Why are we meeting together?” ”What is the goal of this meeting?” These questions will establish your understanding of what they understand. And from there, you can explain a topic from whatever understanding level they are on.
Be wary of going too far
One of the important things to understand about communication is that it is a thin line. You can over-complicate things, or you can talk down to them. That’s why you must ask questions of your audience.
If you do, you’ll not only be more understood, but people will come back to you for advice and ideas, and will consider you to be The Expert. And that has all sorts of benefits
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