Great Explanation: How Do Pain Relievers Work?

Since I was young, I've wondered about pain relievers and how they work. Thankfully Richard Byrne over at FreeTechForTeachers pointed me to this awesome animated explanation that's part of the TED-Ed series of videos. 

A few things to notice about this video, from the explainer perspective:

The First Half of the Video is Mostly Context

It starts with an easy first step - everyone knows the discomfort of pain - it makes you want to do something to relieve it. No viewer would disagree or lose confidence with the first couple of points. Next it answers questions like - why should I care about pain?  What role does pain play in our lives? Then it does a good (and quite technical) job of explaining what happens inside your body that enables you to feel pain. 

Let's look at the big picture for a moment. The video is called "How Do Pain Relievers Work?" Two full of minutes of video pass before pain relief is even mentioned. That's close to half the video focused on building context and agreement. This creates a foundation for the more specific, pertinent points about pain relievers.  Without taking the time for context, the other points may not be as understandable.

NOTE: If you're interested in learning in-depth about the skill of explanation and how to make Common Craft Style videos, check out our online courses at the Explainer Academy.

The Explanation Lesson:

The next time you're working to explain an complex idea, it may seem logical to head straight for the ideas you need to explain. In this example, it's pain relievers. Instead, I encourage you to take a step back and think about building a foundation for the ideas. Make the first couple of points easy to understand and answer questions like "Why should I care?" or "Why does this matter?"  Talk about the forest first, then the trees. By building context, you'll give the audience a way to make sense of the points that are the real focus of your explanation. 

The video above was based on a lesson by George Zaidan. The animation was produced by Augenblick Studios.