How to clarify technical information

Overcome the perils of confusing and losing your audience when presenting complicated concepts.

Excessive information and details can baffle the audience, while oversimplifying ideas loses your point and patronizes listeners. Strike a balance and keep your audience engaged by following these guidelines:

  • Define terms and acronyms to lay the proper groundwork.
  • Present the conclusion first, not the evidence. Then provide just enough proof to support your findings.
  • Break down concepts into smaller, more easily understood parts, and explain each one.
  • Demonstrate your product or procedure while explaining each element or step.
  • Gauge audience comprehension by asking for questions every 8-10 minutes.
  • Offer details after your presentation, in the form of support materials that you hand out, email or post online.

—Adapted from “Don’t Dumb It Down,” Christopher Witt, Communication Matters,http://christopherwitt.com.

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