Sparking understanding

How to say it

It’s challenging to express what you want in a way your audience can understand what you are asking. When seeking a result, clearly thinking in advance how you will express your ideas is powerful.

Here are several techniques you can use:

Giving an “approximate answer” is based on the principle that most audiences don’t need to know “everything” about what you want, right away. They just need to know the essential thing. An approximate answer is often enough. Don’t give audiences everything, just the important thing.

Connecting what you are asking to how people are directly affected is always effective. Here’s a simple rule: it’s not “what your issue is about, but who your issue is about.” Whose life was changed, or could be changed by your issue? How was an ordinary person affected or could be affected? And: the more specific the better. Names, places, gender and age all have resonance; they make that person directly affected more “real” for your audience.

Find a metaphor or comparison. Metaphors like “the glass ceiling” and “race to the bottom” and “the gig economy” are all permanent parts of the global dialogue on work. Comparisons are compelling: “The hottest recorded summer on record.” “Twice as many migrants entered Europe as a year ago.” “Living on less than 2 dollars a day.” Metaphors and comparisons are easy for audiences to understand and very memorable.

Storytelling is powerful. Beginning/middle/end – character/conflict/resolution is ancient, profound and deep in world culture. Storytelling is also a great tool to express complex ideas. The basic principle is: stories are about change. No change, no story. How did the lives of your “character” – the person directly affected – change as a result of your initiative or project – or how could they change? The more significant the change, the stronger the story is for your audience.

Whatever technique you choose, keep in mind that audiences tend to remember emotions better than facts. Always connect your expertise to your passion and your enthusiasm. Facts + your passion and enthusiasm is much more effective than facts alone.