As presenters and seminar leaders we have expertise in a particular topic, and as experts we face a challenge when trying to teach or communicate with those who don’t know what we know.
We suffer from the Curse of Knowledge. We know things that others don’t and we assume that other people know the things that we do. We can’t unlearn what we’ve learned and we can’t go back to a time when we didn’t know what we know now.
We’ve forgotten what it’s like not to have this knowledge, and that makes it hard to identify with our participants. It makes it hard to step back and explain things in a way that is easily understandable to someone who is new to our topic, system, formula, or industry-specific jargon.
What are the implications for you as a presenter?
You’ll want to be careful about speaking in jargon or generalities. Define acronyms — more than once. If possible, give participants a glossary of terms that includes simple clear examples.
Break your information down into digestible chunks. Have a fresh pair of eyes, someone who is unfamiliar with your topic, work through your training course or sit through your session and provide you with some feedback. Have them answer questions such as
- Is there anything confusing?
- Are there assumptions made regarding the current knowledge base of the attendees?
- Is the content directed to the appropriate level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)?
By having a fresh pair of eyes review your session and give you feedback, you’ll get valuable information that will help you determine whether your program needs simplifying.
How do you handle the Curse of Knowledge? Share your tips in the comment section.