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The Review

How to explain technical things to not so technical people


Technical things

Every entrepreneur and developer has been faced with the challenge of communicating with people who know very little about what they do. No matter what industry you’re part of, you’ll most likely bump into people (and possible customers) that may not have the same skill sets as you. It’s important to find ways to make sure you’re being understood by whoever you’re pitching to. Here are a few tips to improve the sometimes strenuous process of talking about technical things to non-technical people.

Ask questions… like you mean it

As the expert, it’s your job to be the one who reaches across any knowledge cracks. To do this, you have to express technical ideas in ways they’ll understand without demeaning the audience. Start off by asking a few open-ended questions that allow the individual to feel comfortable with sharing how much they know or don’t know. This will give you a better understanding of the best way to explain your product or service in order to keep them engaged.

People and actions > systems and code

It can be difficult to avoid acronyms and jargon because these terms are useful and meaningful. There are a couple simple tricks to doing this. The first is to stop using technical names and take the time to describe what they do. And the second is to begin to educate your audience on a few key terms that may come up frequently during your presentation and then use just these terms throughout your pitch.

It can also be helpful to explain things from the user or customer’s point of view. Instead of saying “the system will,” start every sentence with “the user will.” Instead of “it’s coded like this” say “it’s made possible like this.” Case in point: don’t speak to everyone as if they’re a fellow entrepreneur or developer.

Market the benefits, not the features

Not all your customers are tech savvy folks who salivate when hearing about all the facts related to your product or service. What attracts most individuals are the benefits because they answer the question: “why does this matter to me?” So even though your developer spent months or even years on some state-of-the-art features that just can’t go unrecognized, in order to reel the point home, always follow your points on each feature with the sentence “the benefit of this is….”

Keep your cool

It’s important not to treat the people you’re presenting to as if they’re stupid. Although you may know much more than they do about a certain technical topic, it doesn’t mean you have to be trivial when making your point. Be humble. If the individual or group you’re presenting to has a blank stare on their face, learn how to deliver your content in a variety of ways that will allow your audience to focus on the mode that’s the most meaningful to them.

Just remember the age old saying “less is more.” When it comes to explaining the technical aspects of your product or service to nontechnical people, avoid data dumping and instead, try involving your audience as if you’re having a conversation.