‘The Curse of knowledge’ and how to get clarity in your presentations

You know the situation…you need to explain something to someone and it’s hard to know where to pitch it.  Pitch it too low and they will think you are being patronising.  Pitch it too high and you will lose them. In many presentations, speakers go for the latter option – not because they deliberately want to confuse but because of something called the ‘Curse of Knowledge’.

The Curse of Knowledge is what Chip and Dan Heath in their book ‘ Made to Stick’ describe as the barrier that gets in the way of us being able to remember and imagine what it is like when we didn’t know what we know now. If we can break down that barrier, we immediately get more clarity about what we say and we get better at explaining.

And of course, when our audiences understand what we say, they remember it and therefore are more likely to act on what we have said.

One of my mentors in my early days of training was fond of saying, ‘Never underestimate the levels of intelligence in your audience, and never overestimate their levels of knowledge’.  This is not about dumbing down it is about being relentless in being clear about our core message and how we express it.Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 06.59.19

What are your thoughts about the ‘Curse of Knowledge’?  How easy do you find it to be clear?

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