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How would you explain something technical to someone who is not technical?

Sep 19, 2023

"Mastering the Art of Explaining Technical Concepts to Non-Technical People"

If you're a professional in a technical field, you've likely faced the daunting task of explaining complex concepts to non-technical colleagues or clients. It can be a real challenge, but it's an essential skill to master.

In this article, we'll explore a proven strategy for communicating technical details in a clear, comprehensible manner. This isn't just for Engineers, it's for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills in a technical environment.

The Power of Analogies
The key to explaining technical concepts to non-technical people is using analogies. Analogies are incredibly effective because they link unfamiliar concepts to something that the listener already understands.

For example, let's say you need to explain why a company's computer network needs a firewall. Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of cybersecurity, you could compare the network to a house. The firewall is like the front door. Without it, anyone could just walk right in. But with a solid, secure door in place, unauthorized intruders are kept out.

The Right Analogy Makes All the Difference
Finding the right analogy is crucial. It should be relatable and simple, but also accurate enough to convey the right message. When crafting your analogy, consider the listener's background and what they're familiar with. If you're talking to a musician, use musical analogies. If you're talking to a chef, use cooking analogies.

Practice Makes Perfect
Practicing your explanation is equally important. Try it out on someone who doesn't work in your field and ask for feedback. Did they understand your explanation? Was the analogy helpful? Use this feedback to refine your approach.

Ultimately, the goal is not to show off your technical expertise, but to ensure that the listener understands the concept you're trying to explain. As Albert Einstein famously said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

Don't Forget the Big Picture
Finally, always remember to explain why this technical concept matters in the grand scheme of things. How does it impact the person you're talking to or the company as a whole? Providing this context can make the technical details more relevant and easier to grasp.

Take the Next Step
Ready to hone your skills at explaining technical concepts to non-technical people? Start by identifying a complex concept you often have to explain in your work. Then, create an analogy and practice your explanation on a non-technical friend or family member. Remember, the more you practice, the better you'll get!

Stay tuned for more insights and strategies to boost your communication skills in the technical world.

Check out my YouTube Video on this subject where I answer the question - How would you explain something technical to someone who is not technical? 

For more resources, follow my YouTube channel, visit my blog or sign up on the Practice Interviews website.

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Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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