Explaining Technical Things to Non-Technical People

Explaining Technical Things to Non-Technical People

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I often have to explain technical things and technical decisions to my extremely non technical manager and I’m pretty awful at it. What are good ways to essential dumb things down for the rest of the world who don’t have a passion for programming?

Example questions I’ve been asked:

  • Why are you using Django instead of Java (Didn’t accept that it was cheaper either)
  • Asking me to rephrase things in non technical words, my sentence was “Certain HTML tags are not allowed”. How can I possibly dumb that down?
  • Other stuff that makes perfect sense to me, but is just so basic I don’t know how to explain it
  • Why this, why that, why everything!

Also, how do I tell my manager to look the basic stuff up on Google, like “What is Pylons?”

I’m ready to rip my hair out, these questions are driving me insane!!


Best answer by Slokun:

“I tend to use analogies. Take whatever the topic is, and think of something completely non-technical that they would understand, and explain it to them that way.

Best example I can think of offhand is if I need to explain object orientation, I’ll explain it using a deck of cards. Or, when I was trying to explain the idea of wireless internet to my great aunt (who’s never used a computer), I used cordless phones to explain it.

I’ve yet to come across any topic I can’t dumb-down this way.”

Content originally found at StackExchange.com.