5 Techniques That Will Help You Explain Things Better

How to Communicate More Effectively Using Simple Structures

Our ability to communicate well and explain things simply is a critical skill to have if we want to lead with confidence and have the impact we’d like to.

Throughout history, great communicators have left a lasting legacy because of their ability to influence the thoughts and actions of audiences through the power of words.

If we want to make a bigger difference in our families, communities, our work, or in the world, we must develop the ability to speak confidently and explain things more effectively.

Whenever we’re speaking, there are always two things we have to do well, which are:

  • Figuring out what to say, and
  • Knowing how to say it.

Having structures or frameworks can help us understand things better, which will also help us explain things better. Structures help us say things more effectively and avoid confusion.

Whenever there’s confusion, there may be different interpretations of what’s being said, which can result in wrong actions being taken.

If we want to be known for our communication abilities, having structures we can use at any time, is highly beneficial.

explaining things simply

Many years, during a job interview, I was asked to give an example of a situation where I demonstrated a particular quality or skill that would be required for the role I was applying. At that time, I did not have any structures I could use quickly so I rambled on with an answer that I thought was okay.

A week or two after the interview, as I had not heard back from the company, I called back to ask for feedback on my interview performance. The response I got was that the skills and experience of another candidate more closely matched the requirements of the role they were offering.

When I asked for specific feedback on how I answered questions, I was told to consider using one structure, called the STAR framework, to be more specific with my responses.

Since then, I’ve used that model in different situations to communicate more clearly, which is described below.

5 Simple Structures to Explain Anything More Effectively

  1. Problem-Solution-Result. This is useful when giving examples of how a problem or challenge was solved. It starts off by describing the problem, what solution was implemented and what results were achieved.

    It can also be used to explain Opportunity-Solution-Benefit when attempting to influence an audience to take a particular action.

  2. STAR framework. This is an effective model to use during interviews when asked to give specific examples. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.

    It starts off by describing what the situation was, what tasks were required to be done, what actions were taken and what results were achieved after taking those actions.

  3. What – So What – Now What? This can be used to define what a situation is, why it’s important (so what) and what needs to be done next to either resolve the situation or move it forward if the situation is a project.

    An alternative model is Who – What – Now What?, where instead of describing a situation, we can explain who a situation is relevant to or who was involved in a situation.

  4. Why – What – How – What If? This is takes into account the learning preferences of most people. It starts off with explaining why a concept or idea is important, what are some relevant information or statistics, what steps need to be taken (how) and the potential benefits of taking those steps and also the potential consequences of not taking those steps.
  5. Customer – Problem – Plan – Success. This can used when promoting a product or service. It starts off by defining who the customer is or who the ideal person is for what we’re offering, what problems they’re experiencing that we can help solve, sharing a specific plan for how we can help them, and what their life will look like after they’ve used our product or service.

Having a few communication structures or models is really helpful in helping us explain things in simple terms, so that others can either take the action we want them to, or explain what we’ve communicated with other people.

Things to Remember When Explaining Something

  1. Be conscious of your non-verbal signals.
  2. Confirm understanding by asking clarifying questions.
  3. Repeat something if it needs to be repeated.

As we learn to explain things better and in simple terms, we will improve our communication skills, develop more self-confidence and become a more influential person.

Action Step: Next time you’re in a meeting or at an event and are having a conversation with someone, practice using one of these techniques to communicate more effectively. Also observe how the other person is communicating and whether they are using any specific techniques.

Question: What is another technique that can be used to explain things better?

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