Bridging the Information Gap: How to Communicate Complex Information Effectively

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Picture this: you hear about a new species of fish discovered near your town. Excited, you do a quick search and find that this discovery is so recent that there aren’t many news articles about it yet. So far, all that’s been written about it are multiple entries in scientific journals. You think, “It can’t be that complicated,” and click through, only to be met with unfamiliar scientific terms and discussions that experts use. Feeling a little dejected, you go back to your daily routine, leaving the excitement about the cool, new fish species behind.

New information that can be of great interest and importance to the public sometimes ends up being overlooked because it’s presented in a way that isn’t easily understandable. It isn’t for lack of further education, either; most of it is written in a way that isn’t accessible to people who are not professionals or academics. To a lawyer, the word “jurisprudence” is used naturally, but it might need a bit of research for the average Joe. Bridging that gap is vital to ensure that everyone understands the terms.

The Importance of Effective Communication in Different Industries

People from different walks of life understand information at varying degrees. These degrees can be affected by their education, cultural background, surrounding locality, and the people they often talk to. Effective communication ensures that no matter what a person’s background is, they can take in complex strategies and concepts and apply them in the way necessary. Here are different ways to communicate information effectively to general readers.

1. Use visual graphics.

Studies show that a large part of the population is visual learners and that adding a visual aspect to presenting information makes it easier to understand. In a corporate setting, this is used through pie charts and graphs, as handing out papers filled with so many figures and notes in a text can overwhelm even a CEO. Using visual graphics in marketing can also help because it pushes a brand’s aesthetic and catches people’s eyes. For this, you’ll need a graphic designer who’s skilled in putting a big chunk of text into understandable images.

2. Section information into digestible chunks.

Most of the time, confusion occurs because a listener gets overwhelmed with so much information at once. A big block of text on a blank page is less likely to be read than a well-sectioned document, so make sure to separate some paragraphs. A general rule of thumb: when a new thought is being introduced, make a new paragraph for it. This is especially handy in marketing and management; no one handling so many things at once wants to sift through an information dump in a big wall of text.

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3. Use common situations as examples.

This tip can be used to connect more to your readers. If a common situation is used as an example, the reader will feel more compelled to keep reading because they are familiar with it. When a document starts with a ton of legal terms and statutes regarding medical crimes, it can very easily intimidate a general reader. But if you use a grave medical malpractice case in a nursing home as an example, something closer because of a human aspect, it can help anyone understand just how important the information is.

4. Explain industry jargon.

Another common mistake in communicating any complex information is assuming that everyone will understand the jargon. Jargon or industry-specific words are more familiar among people who move in those circles, so using it too much without explanation can make a generalist reader feel excluded and discouraged from learning further. Add footnotes or short explanations to get the point across easily. Making interested people feel welcome to learn more is a win-win for everybody.

5. Employ a simpler tone and language.

This method is important when you wish to relay information to new members of a team, younger people, or older people. Just because one is an industry professional doesn’t mean heavier corporate lingo is needed all the time. Using clear and simple language can streamline so many meetings and open avenues for discussion, thus making communication more effective. It also saves on printer ink and paper if hard copies of a document have to be shared.

Being more considerate makes for more effective communication.

Understanding beforehand that not everybody who might listen or read up on what you publish has the same lived experiences as you do helps a lot. Awareness is the key to effective communication, no matter which industry you’re a part of. This is what separates a good manager, adviser, and doctor from the standard ones. Wanting to educate and inform potentially everyone should drive any publication, so it’s best to practice awareness.

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