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November 7, 2022

5 Tips For Talking Technology with Non-Technical Decision-Makers

Tips
Tips

Assume you need executive approval for a technical proposal. Your CEO and CFO are not from the IT or software industries. They're generalists looking for a solution to a business problem, and it's your job to present the proposed technical solution in a compelling, understandable manner.

If you're staring at a blank PowerPoint slide and don't know where to start, consider the following five best practices:

1- Tips to Start with the end in mind.

Define the desired outcome. How will you know if you're successful? Then, only share the technical information required to achieve your goal. A high-level overview is frequently sufficient, followed by an opportunity for Q&A.

2- Tips to Describe the problems that require a solution.

Is there a business issue affecting your company's ability to serve customers? Do you have a cybersecurity risk that could cost you millions of euros in lawsuits and fines? Do you see a technological opportunity that could generate a billion dollars in new revenue each year?

Executives and managers prioritize the bottom line. "We're dealing with a technology issue that costs us $2 million per quarter in customer attrition."

Your audience may not understand the technical details, but the alarming attrition rate indicates the need for immediate action.

3- Tips to Speak your audience’s language

"Know your audience," as the saying goes in professional communication. What are their objectives? What are their requirements and concerns?

You build an "attention bridge" when you connect your message to something they care deeply about. Because you have their attention, they are more likely to stick with you during the technical discussion—even if they need to ask clarifying questions or request that you repeat the information in a different way. You've enticed them to stick with you even if they don't understand everything you're saying.

4- Before delving into technical details, establish the context.

If you want to connect with non-technical executives or managers, provide a high-level explanation of the technical solution without delving too deeply. If someone asks you a question, keep your answers brief and, to the greatest extent possible, free of technical language.

5- Be humble

Find a peer or coach who can act as a sounding board and coach you on appropriate communication methods if you've been told that you're "talking down" to your coworkers. You need a person who will be brutally honest with you about how they perceive you and who can offer detailed advice on how to modify their style.

Be humble when participating in technical discussions. Assume your audience is extremely intelligent but lacks the background necessary to understand anything you are passionate about. Take a deep breath and try a different strategy if a group of people is having trouble understanding the technical concepts you're attempting to explain. Would a metaphor, for instance, aid in understanding?

Or, invite the audience to clarify what they've discovered thus far. By doing so, you may determine what the audience has understood and where they still have concerns.

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