Simplifying the Complex: Explaining Technology Value to Non-Technical Prospects

If you’re asked to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience, here are some tips you can use.

Today’s world is run by software solutions. As the developers and professionals behind many of our wonderful enhancements, your intelligence has provided solutions to everyday obstacles and allowed users to focus on their most critical needs. We certainly do not doubt the intelligence of technical professionals, but that doesn’t mean that the technical information is always communicated in the most effective method to those that are non-technical.

Being able to effectively communicate technical information to a non-technical audience can become nightmarish, especially if their level of knowledge is a few clicks below that of the subject matter expert.

If you’re asked to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience, here are some tips you can use:

Know your audience.

Just like in sales, it is important to get a baseline understanding of who you are relaying information to. What do they know? What’s their predominant level of expertise? Using dumbed-down examples and speech can turn off your audience, but using jargon that sails above their level of comprehension will also not be effective. Try conducting a brief survey to determine skill level or even share a “cheat sheet” of common terms that can be used frequently. Tech talk – while familiar to some – might be a tad intimidating those who don’t use it as a second language. When in doubt, sticking to layman’s terms always is a safe bet.

Don’t data dump.

You might be excited to share a ton of information, and that’s fine, but will your non-techie prospect be just as excited by the statistical throw-up you’re about to perform? Paralysis by analysis is very real, so try to include numbers that can directly link your audience to a pain point or information they must know.

To make your data easier to understand, try creating visuals that makes information easier to understand and put into actionable phases that make sense for all users.

Stay focused on benefits, not the technicalities.

If you are trying to make a case for implementing a solution, you likely already understand the benefits of using the technology and some of the efficiencies it will create. You likely see the potential to improve people’s work life. Most non-technical stakeholders don’t need to understand the ins and outs of how a piece of technology works – just that it does work. Try elaborating on the unique pain points it may solve for certain teams, and make sure it will have a positive impact for them and their team(s).

Ask for input/feedback.

People are usually shy about asking questions and coming across as “dumb.” Offer up different ways for people to submit questions, ask them privately, or even in groups until there is a level of familiarity. Reinforcing that you are a resource meant to teach them, not judge, can go a long way.

You want people to engage with you, so tell them their input is needed. This will help them be an active participant in your process, and be an active learner. This tactic is sure to make things less confusing and easier for non-technical people to pick up.

Technology isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is only further embedding itself in our day-to-day business activities, so technical knowledge – to a certain point – will likely become requirements. Until then, there are great opportunities to communicate new technologies so that all users have a fundamental understanding of the need and functionality of these solutions. Visual aids, cheat sheets, being available for answering questions, and focusing the impact on each business unit will go a long way in the adoption and utilization of these technological products. 


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Pat Ward
Pat is in his second decade in the Payments Industry. Throughout his career he’s focused on creating long-term and profitable partnerships with best-of-breed Independent Software Vendors. Since joining North American Bancard (NAB) in 2014, Pat has been instrumental in building out NAB's Integrated and Semi-Integrated Partner Programs, and for bringing some of the best POS companies into the NAB Family.