How to Explain Complex Ideas
Emily Triplett Lentz
How do you explain a complex idea — simply and so anyone can understand it? While you'll find plenty of existing resources on how to break down complex concepts in a way your audience can understand, it's harder to come by advice about which channel is best for communicating your message in the first place.
Should you record all your thoughts in a long document that you then distribute and ask everyone to read? Put a slide deck together and call a meeting to present it to everyone involved? Send a multi-paragraph email with several attachments for review?
When your message is an important one, it’s easy to overthink how you’ll communicate it to others.
10 ways to explain things more effectively — TechRepublic
Why video is ideal for explaining complex ideas
Recording a video message is often the best way to explain yourself. It not only saves you time, it’ll ensure your recipients absorb the material you’re sharing with them.
By recording your screen and your voice (or your face — which we recommend!) at the same time, you get to walk your recipient through your entire process. Because they get to watch and listen at the same time, versus having to consume a wall of text, they’ll remain engaged and be likelier to absorb all the information you need them to.
6 examples of complex concepts explained via video
1. Helping users follow technical instructions
Allen Gaudinier is a Technical Support Engineer at Loom, who often creates video messages to communicate with users who need to take several steps to solve their problem — it’s faster and clearer than writing them all out.
“When we create a Loom to communicate with users,” Allen says, “they feel it's more personal, as well as easier to follow technical instruction.”
He also creates videos for our own internal articles, to walk Loommates through the steps they need to take to perform their jobs effectively.
2. Reporting an issue
Recording a Loom works wonders for QA — as we’ve seen, it’s much easier to “show and tell” someone what’s broken, or what you’d like to see changed.
3. Sharing useful content with a niche audience
CPA Akshay Shrimanker is a tech startup accountant. He used Loom to to explain the Paycheck Protection Program to Early Stage Tech Founders:
4. Adding context to Pull Requests in Github
“Loom is extremely helpful explaining complicated Pull Requests in Github,” says Geoff Lawson, a Senior Software Engineer at Loom. “I can easily explain the reason for a change, or explain the complexity for some code by dropping the Loom link in the Pull Request's description. This saves time by providing context and clarity, resulting in less back and forth questioning during the review process. It also provides a great historical context for code decisions.”
5. Giving a product demo
Seekwell’s product allows users to run and send SQL queries to Google Sheets, Slack, or email. “We have a pretty minimal UI, which can make it complex to get started,” says Mike Ritchie, the company's Co-founder and CEO.
We’re big fans of using Loom for product demos ourselves. Especially now, sales teams will benefit from adapting their traditional approaches, and differentiating themselves with prospective customers.
6. Delivering remote lectures
Loom is free for teachers and students, and especially in the era of COVID-19, educators all over the globe have been using it to deliver lessons to their classes.
Give it a shot
Recording a video message is a highly efficient, effective and expressive way to get information across. And unlike many meetings or presentations, the video lives on — it can be referenced again and again, by anyone who needs to see it, at whichever time is most convenient for them.
The next time you need to explain something with a complexity level beyond a few lines of text, try recording a loom video!
Get expert workplace communication tips delivered straight to your inbox.
Written by Emily Triplett Lentz
Emily heads up the Content team at Loom.