Making Complex Topics Simple

Making Complex Topics Simple and Understandable

Einstein once said “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Of course, he was also a man who could define the laws of physics, but not properly use a hairbrush. You don’t need to discover the theory of relativity to know how to break down a complex topic and make it understandable to an average audience.

Take a step back
When you are entrenched in your work it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Taking a step back to look at the big picture can help you define the overarching concept, without paying attention to the million little details that consume your thoughts on a day-to-day basis. Think about how you would describe your work if you could only use two or three sentences. What you put in those sentences is what you want to communicate to your audience. Those are your most important points and where you want to start building your presentation.

Who are you talking to?
When you start putting together your presentation you need to think about two important things. The first is the audience to whom you are speaking. How you shape your words will be dictated by your audience. You are going to say very different things to people who work in your field than you would to an audience of people with very little knowledge (and perhaps interest) of your subject matter. If you don’t consider your public before you even start putting your presentation together, there is a very good chance your words will fall on deaf ears.

What do you want them to know?
This is the second important thought to consider when crafting your presentation. What are the two or three points you want remembered after your clients leave the room? Each point should be no more than one sentence. Think about how to share these salient points, verbatim, with people so that your information has a greater reach. Now you have your topic sentences and can fill in around them.

Watch your language
No, I am not talking about swearing. Though attention-getting of course, dropping an f-bomb in the middle of a presentation is never the best idea. What I am saying is to make sure that any technical language is removed. Use layperson-speak at all times. The minute that you have an audience member Googling a turn of phrase, you have lost them and you probably won’t get them back.

Break it into segments
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Same goes for breaking down complex topics into understandable terms. Lay it out piece by piece, giving your listeners a road map as you go so that they can connect all the pieces, not only now, but later on as well. Be careful though, don’t break your presentation down into too many pieces. You don’t want listeners getting overwhelmed and leaving a key portion of information behind like a bit of hardware left over after you assemble an IKEA desk.

Use examples
Examples are extremely powerful when it comes to making complex concepts understandable. They give listeners a way to connect the ideas you are laying out to the real world. They also give them signposts to return to when they can’t fully remember a concept later on. You don’t need to have an example for every sentence, but a smattering of thought-provoking images will be very useful in helping you make an indelible impression on a crowd. Einstein was able to see the secrets of the universe and explain them in a way that even the most basic student of physics could understand. You can share the secrets of your knowledge, no matter how complex, by simply following a few basic steps to make it more understandable. Then you can call yourself a genius.