A Quick Guide to Presenting Complex Information With Simplicity
In the public sector, you work with complex information.
Overloaded reports, presentations and briefs do little to engage or inform your audience, leaving them confused and with more questions than they arrived with.
We’ve created a quick guide so you can help your readers grasp even the most complicated information. In this guide, we cover six key ways to succeed when it comes to presenting complex information with simplicity - plus 3 top communication tips!
How to Present Complex Information with Simplicity: Six Key Ways
- Think About Your Audience
- Keep It Short and Sweet
- Focus on Your Key Message
- Use Diagrams and Models
- Keep It Jargon-Free
- Ask 'So What?'
1. Think About Your Audience
Get to know who your audience or listeners are: What's most important to them? What motivates them? What language do they tend to use? Without tailoring to your audience, the information you present might be difficult to understand.
Your job is to make it easy for readers to gain the information they need. Keeping them at the heart of your writing will guarantee an understanding of the complex ideas and topics you’re presenting.
2. Keep it Short and Sweet
Writing in the public sector means condensing lengthy documents into short summaries while also having that information understood by readers with various levels of knowledge.
You have the potential to reach large audiences through different networks in your role, so make every word count. Aim to write in the active voice rather than the passive, as this will engage the audience much more with fewer words.
There’s no place for flowery writing in the public sector, although metaphors can help explain complicated ideas better. In these cases, less is better than more.
3. Focus on Your Key Message
Challenge each of your key points to make sure they’re relevant. Does this encourage understanding or cause more confusion? If it’s the latter or you’re not sure, just take it out. Presenting complex information with simplicity requires some extensive editing to achieve the right balance. It might be you enlist a colleague to go through it with a fine-toothed comb.
As we stated previously, using metaphors is a very effective way to help you make your complex ideas relatable. However, you need to be as clear and concise as possible but not patronise your audience by making it seem easier to understand than it really is. It always needs to tie back to your key messaging.
4. Use Diagrams and Models
Where possible, use real-life examples and diagrams to help illustrate your difficult topics. Here are some possibilities:
- Chunking: Chunk ideas/factors/items that have a commonality together. Show what they have in common and highlight where they differ.
- Sequencing: Put the items in an order that makes sense. It could be chronological or a top-level view to a more in-depth and detailed view of your topic.
- Venn diagrams: A Venn diagram is great for visually showcasing the overlaps and differences between items.
- Flowcharts: A well-constructed flow chart enables your audience to see the process and clearly identify the action points and decisions made as a result.
- Pictures: Can help your audience remember a specific point or can even help to add humour to your presentation.
- Timeline: A timeline can help show the progress of a complex project and can be used to demonstrate what steps are yet to be completed.
- Summary reports: If you have a collection of information or data that can be presented in a clear way, a summary report can be a strong way to go. They may use a variety of the diagrams listed above.
These visual assets help to break up walls of text and present data simply. This is great for keeping the reader stimulated and re-engaging them if they’ve switched off.
5. Keep it Jargon-Free
Your language is a powerful tool. Complex vocabulary might seem impressive, but it rarely helps understand and can actually alienate your audience. If there’s a simpler word available, use it.
Opt for simple, everyday language, avoiding any acronyms, jargon or highly niche phrases. When it's impossible to avoid, make sure to define any complicated terms.
6. Ask 'So What?'
By challenging your main points, you can dive down into a topic and really get to the parts that matter. When doing this, think about the information you're presenting from your audience's point of view. Give them a reason why they should care and what value this information will add to their lives.
3 Communication Tips For Presenting Complex Information
1. Use storytelling
According to research by Dan & Chip Heath, after a presentation, only 5% of people remember specific statistics but 63% of people remember a story told by the presenter. By incorporating the complex information you're sharing into a story, you can emotionally connect your listeners to that information more effectively. This way, they're more likely to understand the information, use it and most importantly, remember it.
2. Speak in the present
When delivering complex information, it's important to speak in the present tense. This not only prevents repetitiveness when asking the listener to think back, but it also allows you to apply the information directly to their present day. By doing so, you can establish a stronger connection and ensure that the information resonates with your audience.
3. Use an analogy
Similar to storytelling, an analogy can help reinforce and make the information you're presenting easier to understand for your audience. If you're presenting unfamiliar information, using an effective analogy that's relevant to your information and audience is highly impactful.
Before presenting your analogy, make sure to test it beforehand to ensure that it effectively conveys the information and resonates with your audience. By doing so, you can avoid any confusion faces and questions during your presentation.
Learn More Tips and Tricks to Communicate Effectively in the Workplace
If you’re looking to improve your presenting skills, understand how to communicate more effectively with your team or even brush up on cross-department communication, then this guide is for you.
We’ve catered it specifically to those in the public sector so you can communicate confidently in any situation.
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2+ years in SEO and content marketing. Striving to help public sector professionals develop their skills and learn something new through high-quality content.