You overestimate your audience

Everyone knows this!

Do you ever think that when it comes to your subject?

Many experts know this experience. You think you’re explaining something in a very simple way. And yet your audience looks at you questioningly.

How come?

The mechanism that plays a role here is called the curse of knowledge.

As an expert, you’ve been trained in your subject for years. And the knowledge you’ve gained, determines the way you perceive the world.

An ornithologist recognizes a merlin, while a layperson only sees a falcon, a bird of prey or just a bird.

An ornithologist has all kinds of associations with the word ‘merlin’. How it looks, that it’s rare, that it’s small, that it doesn’t hover, like a kestrel.

And many more.

Such associations are important for your work as an expert. But when you communicate, they just get in the way.

Because your audience doesn’t have those associations. So they don’t automatically draw the same conclusions as you.

Are you unsure whether you should explain a basic term of image from your field?

Then the answer is probably ‘yes’.