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Tips for Effectively Communicating Complex Ideas to Non-Technical Clients

As a data scientist, your job doesn’t always make sense to others. Ever tried explaining what you do to your parents? They may nod their heads, but their eyes scream confusion.

Well, aside from possibly stifling job-related conversations, this isn’t a big deal. However, when it comes to explaining what you do to potential clients, who happen to be just as technology averse, it’s a major issue.

Here are some helpful tips for explaining exactly what you do to non-technical clients:

  1. Use Metaphors and Analogies

Metaphors and analogies exist for the purpose of helping people understand foreign concepts and work by relating them to familiar ideas. When it comes to data science and other technical specialties, these literary devices are your best friends. Many businesses rely on these comparative figure of speeches and you can also benefit from them.

“We love metaphors here at CBT Nuggets,” says the online IT training provider. “They’re one of the most effective teaching tools when it comes to teaching technology. You may know the ins and outs of your technology. But don’t be a text book.” Find a metaphor or analogy that works and stick to it.

  1. Look at Things From Their Perspective

In order to effectively explain what you do, you must put yourself in the shoes of the other individual. If they don’t understand what you’re saying, it’s probably because you don’t understand them. Look at things from their perspective and consider how you can help them comprehend. Thinking back to your own personal experiences prior to the beginning of your career can help you establish a relevant frame of mind.

  1. Use Stories

It’s challenging for people to remember clinical definitions and technical explanations. They may have a vague understanding of the concept when you explain it to them, but they’ll quickly forget. In order to help them recall your explanation in the future, use a story. Stories give the mind a path to follow and allow for easier information recall.

  1. Ditch the Jargon

Buzzwords and jargon may be used within your industry to streamline communication and create a standardized language, but ditch this complex terminology when speaking with others. Dumb your conversation down in the most respectable manner possible to ensure the individuals you’re speaking with don’t feel inadequate or confused.

  1. Involve Them in the Process

There’s no better way to explain what you do than by involving others in the process. When making a sales pitch or establishing a relationship, reel them in by giving a quick demonstration. People learn much quicker when they have hands on experience. These situations provide something tangible that can be grasped.

  1. Spare the Details

Have you ever asked someone a simple question and gotten way more than you wanted to hear in return? You don’t want to do this when explaining your job. Stick to the basics and leave out the superfluous details.

“Some things just aren't as important as they seem when you're learning a new topic, and you can always come back to those details later,” says tech writer Thorin Klosowski. Including too many details does nothing more that complicate things. “Your main objective is to get a point across and help someone understand a difficult concept. Strange terminology, names, or specific processes rarely matter,” Klosowski continues.

Speak in Layman’s Terms

When something is super familiar to you, it’s hard to believe that others are unable to grasp the same idea. Instead of becoming impatient and annoyed, take the time to speak in layman’s terms and clearly explain your job in a way that’s easy for anyone with non-technical experience to understand. 

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