How To Explain Complex Technology Topics To A Broad Audience
The USA made headlines last week as a number of international airlines cancelled flights into the country. The President of Emirates airlines described it as, “…one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issue…I’ve seen in my aviation career.”
If you’re interested, you can read more about it.
This issue reminded me of the challenge of breaking down a complex, technical topic for a broad audience. This is how I do it…
The first step to research to topic to a reasonable depth. The goal here is to hit ~85—90% awareness of the topic. After that point, the knowledge you gain is too specific and not applicable to the core idea you are going to communicate.
While you’re researching, make sure to keep notes on the key points that keep recurring. This is going to help you in the next step.
Research done, I look through my notes. I’m trying to find the key points that are referenced often. What are the key points of this issue?
The trick here is to make sure that you boil it down to just the essentials.
It’s tempting to address the nuance. Don’t.
At least don’t the first time you explain the issue. You can always dive deeper later on.
Create The Storyline
Now it’s time to weave these key points into a narrative. When discussing technical topics, this storyline is going to be aligned to timing of an event and the layers required to understand the issue.
Make sure you are only communicating the key pieces that are required for the audience to understand the issue and no more.
Connect those pieces together in a way that tells the story of the issue. What happened is only part of if, the audience needs to care about the why too!