It doesn’t matter whether you have a presentation to deliver, an article to write, or a blog post to prepare, you have some pretty complex or technical information to convey and you’re just not sure how you’re going to connect.
It could be anything. A new medical device. A legal or financial strategy. A component that enables your smart phone to work better. A chemical coating that protects your car’s paint from sun damage.
To be sure, each one of these topics can be a cure for insomnia…if you let it.
So, you must ask yourself, “How do I clearly, thoroughly and accurately present information of a highly technical or complex nature and not lose my audience?”
The simple answer is to tell a story. Tell an interesting story. Make it about people not data, or components or acronyms. Put the information in the context of how it helps the reader, the viewer, the site visitor – real people – at all times.
Numbers Can Talk
One of my most memorable examples of this was when I was working for a tech company and we conducted a series of investor road shows.
The first couple of times we did it, I watched the analysts nearly fall to sleep as senior management led off with a detailed tutorial on how the company’s technology worked and where it fit within the network.
But when the CFO stood up to speak, delivering a set of dry but highly respectable numbers, the analysts perked up, some even sitting on the edge of their seats. The order of things seemed to be the problem.
So, counterintuitively, I suggested we change things up. Let’s lead with the numbers and then explain what they mean, rather than the more common approach which was to give background before showing the numbers.
It worked. The management team would talk about impressive sales figures, earnings per share, and the kind of cash reserves that allowed for potential growth through mergers and acquisitions.
In doing this, both the CFO and CEO grabbed the attention of the audience and planted the right questions in the minds of the attendees. Can the company keep this performance up? What will they do with their cash reserves? Will they try to grow organically or through M&A?
The rest of the presentation was the story – the context – of how the company could deliver results, what its strategy for the future would be, and above all, what it all meant to shareholders.
In the end, the company’s story was not really about the company at all, but about what the company’s performance meant to people.
If you have some technical information to relate and you don’t know where to start, begin with the people behind the new development or advancements. Who are they? Why did they see a problem? What inspired them? What made their journey to a solution so innovative or interesting?
Find out more about the people to be impacted by the innovation or new technology. Who are they? Why will they benefit? How will they benefit? Will this change their lives in any way?
The answers to these questions can help turn technical information into understanding. It can help your targeted audiences relate.
Your challenge is to put it all into an order that provide a cohesive narrative, one that takes the story from its beginning to its end, starting with the problem or challenge as it manifests itself in human terms. Then describe the process towards the solution. This is the story that will open your audience’s eyes to the possibilities.
Also published on Medium.