Tech Talks: Communicating IT Concepts to Non-Tech Savvy Family Members

Matt Abid

Professionals well-versed in all things IT sometimes think and speak about technology in a sort of short-hand, trading concepts and solutions rapid-fire with one another. These professionals may also be used to being the first person their family members contact when faced with a tech support question. Now, this can be more of a challenge!

How does one communicate more complex IT concepts to non-tech savvy family members? Below, Matt Abid explores how tech savvy professionals can bridge the gap in understanding between themselves and family members who may not be well-versed in technology.

Know the Audience

Before jumping into a technical explanation, take a moment to think about who the audience is. What is their age and level of experience? Is this something they’ve communicated about before or is it their first time working with this specific technology? Be thoughtful and not oversimplify for your audience (and possibly insult them) nor get too technical so that they tune out or get frustrated.

Think Ahead About the Challenges

If they are working with an app, software, or piece of technology that has some known pitfalls, what are they? Are there certain quirks or loopholes you need to account for as you go along? Or is it possible that they think they have a problem with one aspect… and in fact they are experiencing a different problem entirely that they just don’t recognize or understand?

Less is More – Don’t Overshare

Choose your words wisely – not everything about the product or even about this specific problem needs to be included. Flooding your family member with extraneous information can cause additional confusion, overwhelm them, or make you look like a showoff. No matter the case, it can lead to a negative situation. And do your best to avoid technical jargon – stick to simple terms and even inventive descriptions when needed to get your point across.

Use Visuals

One way to avoid confusing family members with technical jargon is to try to incorporate visuals into your storytelling. Diagrams, illustrations, flowcharts, or even a written list of steps can help simplify core concepts and make them easier to understand and remember.

Matt Abid

Pause to Check in and Encourage Questions

Make sure everyone is understanding you as you go along in your explanation. Pause and ask if there are any questions. The listener may be too shy or embarrassed to interrupt you otherwise. You can also do a gentle check in and have them repeat back their interpretation of what you said to make sure that you were clear.

Explain things in More than One Way

If they did not understand the first time, you may have to explain the steps in more than one way. Often, what will seem simple to you won’t be so to your audience. People learn at different rates and in different styles, so coming up with various ways to approach the same topic may make it more accessible.

Be Patient

The key to communicating IT concepts to non-tech savvy family members is to be patient and respectful. Understand that people learn in different ways and at different rates, take your time explaining, go slowly, and use simple terms and visuals whenever possible.

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