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How to present new or difficult concepts to your audience

Have you ever needed to present something that was complex? Or perhaps a topic that your audience knew nothing about?


This is something that many people will experience in their lifetime.


When you get it, but your audience doesn't, it can be very frustrating - both for them and for you.


So what can we do to make our message more likely to be heard?



Remember that context is king.


Often, we forget to use context when we present. We dive straight in. But with difficult, complex, or new subjects, context becomes even more important.


You might want to "ground" your audience by using a context that is familiar to them or that they can relate to. For example, asking the question "Imagine the last time you went shopping. What was the experience like?" before going on to speak about the technology behind check-out free stores.


It will make sure your audience is fully engaged and with you, before you delve into the more difficult aspects of the presentation.


Cut the jargon.


It's good practice to use plain English in most contexts, but even more so when speaking on topics that are unfamiliar to your audience. It's fine to use terms that they may not know, but make sure you always explain the term and keep it simple for them.


Avoid acronyms or short-hand phrases that could leave your audience feeling lost.


Pass the 6 year old test.


“If you can't explain it to a 6-year-old, you don't understand it yourself,” said Einstein.


A great way to prepare your presentation is to imagine you need to communicate it to a young child. The parts that you find most difficult to do will put a spotlight on where your audience are most likely to get lost - and therefore where you need to focus your presentation practice most.


Leave time for questions throughout.


When speaking on a new or complex topic, try not to only leave questions until the end. If you have the opportunity, leave intervals where people can ask questions throughout your presentation. This is a great way to ensure your audience stays with you because you can clear any confusion as you go, rather than waiting right until the end.

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