31st August 2017 Talking tech – and being understood
One of the more challenging parts of our job involves presenting our clients to a diverse audience – including investors, journalists, financial analysts and the general public – that is, an often non-technical audience. How do we explain to them how a client is working with an important, but complex, technology? We know from experience that people find the technology genuinely fascinating – at least until the technicalities get in the way. So what’s the right approach?
The ‘don’ts’ are fairly easy to list. Don’t be long-winded. Don’t assume more of an audience than you should. And above all don’t get bogged down in detail. Who among you, presented with a technology that could change your life, would want to hear about the radio spectrum it requires, the engineering process that builds it or the technical capabilities of a multi-operator small cell?
We do offer that information, of course: our job is to work with both technical and non-technical audiences. But for non-technical discussions we tend to assume that rather than hardware, software and spectrum you’d like to hear about the amazing things 5G will do, about ways to make river water safe enough to drink without using chemicals, or about how you can get great phone reception in the middle of nowhere.
In a world where technology is changing – and changing lives – at a ridiculous speed, our job is to understand an offering well enough to be able to present its potential to different groups with different levels of expertise and understanding.
And yes, we really do believe that much of what we write and talk about is going to change our world for the better. It’s just that many of the people making that change happen don’t write for a living. Therefore they come to us and expect us to explain their achievements in plain English. And we do.
Many of us do have a background in technology writing – some of it stretching back decades – but none of us are scientists. Constant exposure to technological innovation hasn’t turned any of us into the next Crick, Franklin, Curie or Hawking. It has, however, enabled us to sit down with equally informed non-technologists – each other – and find a way to interpret and present our clients’ amazing achievements to a general audience.
Which we wouldn’t do that, by the way, if we weren’t as excited by the technology as our clients are – and as we would like everyone else to be. We are enthusiasts as well as publicists – and that’s also why we’re sponsoring the Cotswold Life Engineering and Manufacturing Innovation Awards Technology Innovation category.