Oftentimes, the question “Are you getting it?” is purely rhetorical. And yet, if you hear a “Nope” for an answer then something must have gone wrong. It’s usually either of the two options: your explanation is rather vague or your audience is rather dumb.  To rule out the former it’s a good idea to brush up on your explanation skills.

Check out: Battle-Tested Tips for Effective Explanations 






  • prerequisite – something that you officially must have or do before you can have or do something else
  • hone – to make (something, such as a skill) better or more effective 
  • stymie – to stop (someone) from doing something or to stop (something) from happening 
  • trump – to do better than (someone or something) in a contest, competition, etc.
  • bells and whistles – parts and features that are useful or appealing but not essential or necessary
  • sparing – not using or giving a lot of something 
  • compelling – very interesting : able to capture and hold your attention
  • condescend –  to show that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people 


Think about it

 Are the statements below true or false?

  • Specialist vocabulary always impresses the audience and builds a powerful professional image.
  • Detailed explanations can be confusing.
  • Carefully crafted narratives told by professional storytellers are about a person in pain who finds a solution.
  • Grasping the “why” empowers you to experiment with the newly gained knowledge.
  • It’s advisable to offer thorough explanations to those slow on the uptake.



Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

We rely ________ explanations so often that we rarely consider how to make them better. Our explanations just… happen. Unfortunately, these organic explanations can fail, especially when we’re explaining ________ complex idea. Often the problem is ________ Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick, call “The Curse of Knowledge.” We ourselves know so much about our product or service ________  we can’t imagine what it’s ________ not to know. The curse causes us ________ make inaccurate assumptions about our audience’s level of understanding. The terminology and references that sound right to us come ________ as confusing jargon to others, and our explanations fail.



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