How to instantly make your readers and listeners understand what you are talking about

Overview is king. Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Chances are that as an expert, you are frequently talking to non-experts, trying to explain whatever your area of expertise or interests are.

This is especially important when pitching your ideas.

It might be about a cool book you recently read, something that happened at work or a concept that was really interesting — or your core startup idea.

I noticed however, that many people fail to explain their enthusiasm, joy or interest because they ignore a basic idea about how communication works. So I’d like to show you in this quick article what concept you can use to get your point across better.

The principle is as follows: give your listeners a chance to understand the big picture and provide context first.

Talking about a book, don’t start with: “It was so funny, when James tells his friend about what happened that night…”, because it gives no context. Who is James, what is the story about? Where in the book is this happening and why is it funny?

A better approach could be to start with: “In this novel about a spy that I’m reading, there is a situation where the hero James talks to his goofy sidekick about the events of the previous night, where they got separated and spent the night in different bars…”

So there, you are giving context: it’s a novel, it’s about a spy, there is humor involved — all these clues help the listeners to “get” what is going on.

It’s a little bit like those puzzles where you have to guess at a picture from only seeing the parts. The more parts you see, the better you can understand the context and thusly guess the whole image. The same principle of course applies to your communication.

More clues = more context = better understanding.

Another example: when starting to explain a concept to a non-expert, give them clues on the context of your work. Instead of “Science accepted our paper about cardio myocytes” you could say: “I’m working on heart research and we have been researching how cells regenerate after cardiac illnesses. In my work, we are regularly publishing our findings to a really important international journal and they accepted our latest publication. This will hopefully support us to get more research grants in the future…”

Context is king when talking to others who are not familiar with the same background as you are.

And when pitching your ideas, give enough context on what made you work on this problem, where the problems are coming from and what you angle is on solving this.

Thank you for reading, and see you tomorrow.