My favorite line from The Art of Explanation

Back in 2011, I was focused on writing the Art of Explanation. It was my first book and I was on the hook for turning years of practical experience into paragraphs and chapters. Sometimes, this kind of pressure is what you need to see ideas and concepts that you'd taken for granted over time.

In the book, I talk about "fact telling", which is often the culprit in poor explanations. We present a set of facts, without context or story, and leave the audience to figure out the meaning of the facts.

The other side of the coin is storytelling. Story is a powerful tool in explanations, but story alone can't often do the job. If your goal is to explain an idea, your story needs substance. It needs to have elements of fact to resonate.

I thought a lot about how to frame this powerful combination, and I found the solution in this line, which has become one of the most well-known quotes from the book.

"Facts give stories substance. Stories give facts meaning."

The next time you're explaining an idea, remember this. Your explanation may need a balance of both.