For techies, it’s frustrating when others don’t understand what you’re saying. But this phenomenon of speaking geek is a problem in business. When you have to explain something technical to clients, it’s vital that they get it. And you’re responsible for making sure they do.
In fact, this tech communication gap affects businesses worldwide. According to a survey on jargon, only one in three business leaders had heard of tech terms such as big data and software-as-a-service. With this average of understanding, it’s even more important to slow down and explain concepts with care.
Let’s look at some engineering content strategies to put your tech content in your client’s terms.
1. Stop the jargon and know your audience.
Jargon isn’t helpful when trying to reach audiences beyond your industry. As much as possible, try to find common ways of explaining tech content. Or, if the jargon is necessary, come up with a catch phrase or image to explain it. For example, when learning about the expansion of the universe, physics professors often use the metaphor of “a chocolate chip cookie in the oven.”
Find the cookie for your content. You should identify the most challenging jargon or concepts and think about how to make them accessible to your audience. The keyword here is audience. If your client or reader has an IT background, this sort of verbal repositioning is unnecessary. Most of the time, however, you’ll need to consider leveling your audience’s knowledge with your own.
Quick note: this doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your content. You should never oversimplify out of frustration. In fact, doing so can often backfire and make clients feel like you’re hiding key information.
2. Take time to organize and format content.
The way you present content is just as important as the content itself. Whether you’re presenting product technology to a client, writing an informational blog post for your IT company or troubleshooting issues with non-technical team members, you should consider content structure.
For written content, this is perhaps somewhat easier. Break up your report or blog post with shorter paragraphs and subheadings. This will both make it more readable and signal a clear structure for your content.
If you’re presenting at a webinar or client meeting, it’s a good idea to organize your content into 3-5 main points. You can even send a meeting agenda ahead of time with your plan. Make the effort to structure it as clearly as possible. This way, listeners will be more likely to get all the details.
3. Go visual whenever possible.
Visuals have the power to transform information. Whenever possible, consider communicating your content through infographics, charts or graphs. With great visuals, your audience will understand concepts more quickly and deeply.
Don’t forget about video media either. Think about how you can explain technical concepts to clients through a demo or how-to video. This is especially useful if you often get the same questions from clients, as you can reuse it.
If you’re complaining because visuals on your topic don’t exist… make them. There are a huge number of infographic and flowchart makers, including Canva and Zen Flowchart. Creating your own visuals is a small investment of your time that will pay off later.
4. Collect references for extra guidance.
Sometimes your report or demo just doesn’t cut it. If your audience still doesn’t understand the concept or your explanation, it’s time to create a list of references. It’s as simple as putting together a document of links with more information.
If you really want to impress your audience – whether a client or an online reader – you can even curate a folder of materials to share via download. Having extra resources available is always good for your reputation, though it shouldn’t just replace your own content.
5. Collaborate with non-technical coworkers.
The best way to learn how to communicate technical concepts is to try out your content on non-technical folks. Trusted coworkers are a good place to start, as they’ll give you honest feedback about what they understood.
You might also move to collaborate with non-technical coworkers on a regular basis. Ask your team to include a non-technical review as part of your content process. This can do wonders in the long run by having people point out their initial doubts about your report or presentation.
Ultimately, your engineering content deserves better than confused faces. Speaking geek is great with other techies, but not with clients who depend on you. Start with these five strategies to make your content more approachable.
Does your content strategy need freshening? Contact the Onsharp team for some personalized recommendations.
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