Describing Complex Technical Topics Simply: 3 Proven Ways

Today, having excellent technical skills for a programmer is not enough to succeed. Communication plays a lot, and you should be able to work with other teams within your organization, and clear communication is a must.

Of course, it is tough to communicate clearly when you are working on complicated technical parts of the software. Yet, you need to discuss these topics with other people who are outside of your team. Moreover, when you work in an outstaffing company and connect with the client directly, it’s essential to understand each other.

So, if you need to discuss something with other teams, clients, stakeholders, here are three simple ways to do it:

1. Analogies.

Usually, what is happening behind the design of your software application is a mystery to stakeholders. Some have a basic understanding of what is hidden behind the scenes, but it is a rare case. Analogies allow making things relatable. And you can explain almost anything using the examples of real life. Let’s dig into some of them:

  • Data transfer can be compared to the water moving through pipes. Only a specific volume can move through a pipe at a given time.
  • Firewalls are similar to castle walls, and they were overtaken by advancing technology.
  • The search through unstructured data is like searching a book in a library with lights turned off because of a tornado. It is challenging and time-consuming.

The primary aim of analogy is to provide relatable to your topic context. These analogies shouldn’t be complex or realistic. Yet, they allow you to turn some complicated IT terms and context into something more understandable.

2. Forget about showing system diagrams to business users.

Even if they might be clear to you, system diagrams are complicated. Even skilled architects need time to understand them. And business stakeholders don’t care about such things, so they don’t need to see them.

They care about different things. And their primary goal is that the software does the job they need or not. So, it’s your primary focus from now on.

If we draw an analogy to a real-life situation, you don’t want to see all the architectural plans and schemes of the house you live in. They exist, but they are clear to building and construction professionals and not to end-users like you. The same happens when you call a plumber, and he comes to your home and shows you the layout of the whole system. It tells you about all pipes, valves, and pumps you have in the house. Would you care about this? Of course, no, you need the leak fixed, and that is all.

That is how business users see the system diagram you would like to show them in our context. They are interested in getting the job done, and few are involved in the technical side. Yet, if they need it, they can always ask.

3. Always start from a short summary. 

Before we can sort and process new information, we need to know the purpose of a topic. And to give your audience the chance to understand your intent and message, it is an excellent idea to start with a summary. 

  1. The goal you are trying to achieve. 
  2. Problem preventing you from achieving this goal. 
  3. The solution you need or want to put in place to make it work. 

Almost all topics related to work can fit into the goal-problem-solution pattern. 

And the more you are into your technical systems, the less you are thinking about the understanding of your work by the people outside the tech department. GPS pattern is a great tool to make sure you are all on the same page. 

To Sum Up 

Non-expert in technical area people is not always able to understand developers and engineers and their ideas. That’s why while growing technically, you should always sharpen up your soft skills and abilities to describe complex things simply. It would be best if you used common language these people do understand. Moreover, it’s a great idea to start every conversation with a clear summary. These three hacks will help you with that, and you will definitely be able to get all the answers and approves you need from business stakeholders.