Imagine for a moment, the person sitting across from you in a meeting is introducing a new idea, but this time it’s different. She doesn’t start with a list of features or technical jargon.
Instead, she builds the idea. She starts with context and connects her idea with ideas the group already understands. She packages her idea with clear language and visuals that invite everyone to understand how it works and why it makes sense. You can see the reactions - heads nod approvingly, relevant questions are asked and attention is unwavering.
This makes an impression on you. After the meeting you mention how easy it was to understand. Her response: “Thanks. I’ve been learning about explanation. It’s nice to hear my explanation skills are working!”
Explanation skills. The thought has never occurred to most people, but I believe that explanation has been taken for granted for too long. We do it so often that we never stop to think about how we explain ideas - explanations just...happen. And all too often, they fail. Amazing ideas never get traction. Business owners miss major opportunities. Salespeople lose potential deals. Ideas are stopped in their tracks because they’re not explained sufficiently.
This is a problem we can solve and it starts with a willingness to take a step back and rethink how you communicate. By learning explanation basics, we can give our ideas a better chance to flourish, to create change. This is not about making videos. It’s about making ideas easier to understand in any medium. When we do, we’ll see that explanation is an untapped resource that has the power to make people care about what we have to say.
So this is my call to action. We want to motivate and inspire people like you to focus on explanation as a skill and work to become an explanation specialist for your team, organization or class. I’ll be writing more about this idea and inviting your thoughts and feedback. I’ll be sharing a number of points from The Art of Explanation.