Why Explanations Fail
Blank stares: you've seen them before. Usually after you've spent the previous 10 minutes trying to make your audience, however small or large, as excited as you are about your idea. But it's clear from the looks on their faces that they did not get it. And when this happens, there's no way to move forward without leaving people behind.
I've been there. When I was a consultant, I prided myself on being able to explain technology, but I failed a number of times. My passion and interest caused me to speak quickly and skip important points. I sometimes assumed people were following along until I saw on their faces that they did not get the point.
Every day, many companies, homes, and schools are filled with blank stares and discouraged explainers. We all struggle to find the best way to communicate our ideas and we sometimes fail. We can solve this problem, but first, we need to identify the root causes so we can build a foundation for solving them later.
Those blank stares you see are a symptom of an underlying issue at the heart of why explanations fail. This issue is confidence, or the lack thereof. Blank stares often arise when someone has lost confidence that they can grasp—or should even care about—the idea you are communicating. And once confidence erodes, it is difficult to regain in that session. The audience essentially ...