3 Tips to Make People Understand

By March 6, 2017Blogs

For several years, I worked in the medical devices industry as a product development engineer. I often had to make presentations to my coworkers about what I was working on. It wouldn’t be uncommon for them to know nothing about my work. I had to find a way to make it understandable to them. Here are 3 tips for speaking to people who are not in your field about your field.

  1. Explain field-specific terms

Especially if your field is chock full of technical terms not commonly known by the general public, it’s important to explain what you’re trying to convey. For instance, I used to work with osteoblasts. I couldn’t just keep repeating osteoblasts over and over again and expect my coworkers to know what they were. I had to explain what they were (osteoblasts are the cells in our body that make bone, by the way). If you’re able to provide a handout with definitions of terms, even better.

  1. Use visuals

Whether you use tables, graphs, or even cartoons, visually being able to represent what you’re talking about is always helpful, specifically to those who don’t know your field well. The following graphic is a great representation of osteoblasts. With time, tiny projections from an osteoblast protrude outwards and connect with other osteoblasts, forming a bone matrix (yeah, I know I’m nerdy). The graphic really helps people visualize what an osteoblast’s function. Visuals also break up all the text, which an audience always appreciates.

  1. Be open to feedback

There may be times when you think that something is clear when it’s not. How do you know when things aren’t clear? When your audience doesn’t understand. If they don’t understand, you could’ve presented better. Be willing to accept constructive criticism. Seek it out even. It’ll only make your presentations more effective.

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Gregory Pozo says:

    Great tips! This is something helpful for life.

  • jessica says:

    great post–short and simple but such strong tips…it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day industry language which ultimately disconnects you from the group you’re trying to reach, so this is an excellent reminder. thanks!

  • Neil Thompson says:

    I’m glad you found the post helpful, Gregory.

  • Neil Thompson says:

    Short posts are my specialty!

  • Natalie says:

    I teach my audience the same tips about industry terms. There is a fun way to teach technical terms through visuals as you have stated! Great tips.


  • Neil Thompson says:

    Great minds think alike!

  • Kelly says:

    Great tips! I deal with this a lot in explaining what I do to people! It’s super helpful in presenting your blog as well, because as we bloggers know, there are a lot of ins and outs to this that you learn along the way! I’m glad I came across this article. Thanks!

  • Sheila says:

    What a great post! I can sorta relate because I have a Master’s Degree in History, and we all know not everyone enjoys history…The key to making people interested is telling it like a story. And I would ALWAYS include visuals in my presentations because I know it makes it 10x more interesting.

  • Neil Thompson says:

    Kelly, I’m glad you came across this article, too. Thanks for commenting.

  • Neil Thompson says:

    You’d BETTER use visuals to talk about history. Getting drowsy just thinking about it… Thanks, Sheila!

  • Taylor says:

    Nice, good tips!

  • So useful,you used a direct and simple language!
    Beeing opened to criticism is very important,is what will let you grow and connect to your public!

  • Neil Thompson says:

    Thank you, Taylor. Glad you liked them.

  • Neil Thompson says:

    Direct and simple language is all I know!

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