How to explain complex concepts - Deepstash

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Understand your audience

An expert’s job is often to simplify complicated concepts so that other people, with less knowledge, can understand. So for Statisticians, Scientists, and all kinds of professionals, the value to the audience when you speak is defined by your ability to simplify, sometimes hugely complex things, so that your audience can use your knowledge in their lives.

Expertise is of neutral value unless you are able to communicate what you know to decision-makers, colleagues and senior technical leaders in a way that they can use.


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Define your terms

It’s these definitions that set the baseline for understanding the application of your expertise. Don’t ever assume that everyone knows what ‘mortality assumptions’ means in actuarial accounting; or that ‘visual storytelling’ is anything other than marketing nonsense. If you don’t explain what it is, they can’t tell why it’s important.


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Classify and divide your concept into ‘chunks’

Describe how your concept fits into a particular category or how it can be broken down into parts that can be described more easily; this is useful in showing your reader how your concept fits into a big picture, how it can be divided, and how it’s a key tool that will help you in explaining complex issues, and the audience to understand.


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Illustrate with examples

An analogy involves explaining an unfamiliar concept in terms of a familiar one.

For example analogy between a computer firewall and a bank, you could say that (honest and unarmed) people don’t just go directly into a bank and remove cash. They might go to the counter clerk and identify themselves; the clerk then will make sure they have money in their account and give them the money they require. Similarly, a firewall ensures that people who want information and access to an IT network are trusted to have that access.


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