What Approaches Can Be Used to Communicate Complex Information to General Audiences?[a]


    What Approaches Can Be Used to Communicate Complex Information to General Audiences?[a]

    Communicating complex information to a broad audience can be a daunting task, so we've gathered insights from seven professionals, including writers and digital marketers, to tackle this challenge. From leveraging expert knowledge for clarity to simplifying and relating to explain SEO, these experts provide actionable strategies and examples to effectively convey intricate ideas to everyone.

    • Leverage Expert Knowledge for Clarity
    • Simplify Concepts with Relatable Stories
    • Highlight Personal Impact to Engage Audience
    • Use Analogies for Technical Data Translation
    • Employ Analogies and Visuals for Clarity
    • Simplify Jargon into Relatable Concepts
    • Organize Information in Memorable Sections

    Leverage Expert Knowledge for Clarity

    While it might seem counterintuitive, working with experts in the field can be the best resource for bringing complex information to a wide variety of audiences, especially the most novice ones. Experts in the field know how to scale their knowledge better than anyone else. Whether it's a blog, a ghostwritten article, website copy, or an in-depth white paper, I interview experts in the field for every project. Bringing their insights into written content effectively comes down to doing the right research before the interview, asking the right questions, and clearly understanding how each of you defines the "general audience." In many cases, "general audience" is a misnomer.

    Audiences are always evolving. The audience will change depending on the content, where it's published, who endorses it, and what problems it solves. By understanding this upfront and communicating that to the experts you interview, you'll end up with a treasure trove of expertise to bolster your points with a practitioner's point of view. From there, it's possible to adapt the language to your many different audiences.

    Winslow Schmelling
    Winslow SchmellingWriter and Educator

    Simplify Concepts with Relatable Stories

    When you are explaining tricky stuff so everyone gets it, think of it like putting together a puzzle. You break big ideas into small, easy-to-understand pieces, just like you would with a puzzle. Skip the fancy words and tech talk—keep it simple. Instead, tell stories or use examples that make sense in everyday life.

    Like once, my mom asked about cryptocurrency, and she's not big on tech. So, I skipped the fancy words and said it's like digital money that's super safe because it's guarded by strong computer codes. To help her understand better, I showed her a video on YouTube.

    It's all about knowing who you are talking to. Sometimes we focus too much on what we're saying, not who's listening. Keep things clear, and your message will reach more people.

    Ragapriya Ramesh Kumar
    Ragapriya Ramesh KumarDigital Marketer

    Highlight Personal Impact to Engage Audience

    After years in the news industry, I find that the best way to make complex information useful for an audience is by explaining how this information impacts them. How does this affect their day-to-day life? What will change in their daily routine? What difference will it make in their neighbor's life? Once you can gauge interest through there, it makes it easier to explain complex information because your audience is engaged and ready to work to understand the topic.

    Angela Poffenbaugh
    Angela PoffenbaughDirector of Communications and Marketing, The Company Lab

    Use Analogies for Technical Data Translation

    We often face this challenge, especially when translating dense technical data into accessible language for our clients or the broader public.

    A specific instance that illustrates our approach involved a client in the biotechnology sector who developed a groundbreaking but complex new therapy. The challenge was to convey the significance and functionality of this therapy to potential investors and non-expert stakeholders who were crucial for the next funding round.

    To tackle this, we employed a strategy of simplification and storytelling. We broke down the therapy’s mechanism into fundamental concepts using analogies that were familiar to the audience. For example, comparing the targeted drug delivery system to a "postal service" that delivers drugs exactly where needed in the body, avoiding side effects typical of broader distribution methods. We also crafted a narrative around the patient's journey, illustrating how this therapy could significantly improve quality of life compared to existing treatments.

    This approach not only made the information more digestible but also helped the audience connect with the material on a personal level, enhancing their understanding and engagement. The result was a successful presentation at a major industry conference, followed by a notable increase in investor interest.

    Niclas Schlopsna
    Niclas SchlopsnaManaging Consultant and CEO, spectup

    Employ Analogies and Visuals for Clarity

    Trying to explain something mind-bending to someone unfamiliar with it can feel like translating rocket science into emoji code! To solve this, use relatable analogies. If you're explaining complex financial products, instead of jargon overload, compare a retirement plan to saving for a dream vacation. Suddenly, it clicks! Visuals like infographics and explainer videos are also helpful. Break down the information into bite-sized pieces with clear language and engaging visuals. This approach bridges the knowledge gap and makes complex information digestible for everyone.

    Beth Worthy
    Beth WorthyCofounder and President, GMR Transcription Services, Inc.

    Simplify Jargon into Relatable Concepts

    With digital marketing, especially within the niche of local SEO, the complexity of information can be quite daunting for clients who aren't as versed in the subject. My approach at Double Plus Marketing Agency is to simplify the jargon into relatable concepts. For instance, I often compare search engine rankings to a popularity contest where your website gains 'votes' through quality content and reputable links.

    To illustrate, let's take the Google algorithm updates, which can be quite technical. When explaining this to a general audience, I use the analogy of a teacher's grading rubric changing. Just as students need to understand the new rubric to score well, businesses must adapt to the updated algorithm to rank well. This kind of simplification helps clients grasp the importance of staying current with SEO strategies without getting bogged down by the technicalities.

    It's all about making the information accessible so that they can make informed decisions about their digital marketing strategies.

    Joshua Bartlett
    Joshua BartlettOwner, Double Plus Marketing

    Organize Information in Memorable Sections

    I think the most important part of communicating complex information is breaking it down into three parts or sections. This gives people an easier way to remember those specific headers. Then, break those sections into smaller parts. Also, use elementary language and give lots of examples to show the concept in practice.

    Kelli Anderson
    Kelli AndersonCareer Coach, Texas General Insurance