Words are hard - an essay on communicating with non-programmers

  • Remember communication is complete when you are understood and not when you have said what you had to say. When communicating with people outside of the programming world, stay away from using technical jargon. It can make people feel excluded and it can confuse them.
  • It’s often necessary to simplify things. Be respectful, and never condescending, while doing that. Try explaining things in a step by step fashion, mention what edge cases are you considering with an example or two, and present a generalised gist.
  • Before an important meeting with non-technical stakeholders, work with a non-technical person as a sounding board to help you see if you’re making sense to your audience.
  • Try to personify or use analogies when explaining yourself. Use visual analogies - draw diagrams, tables, charts, flowcharts and the like to help illustrate your points.
  • When explaining performance metrics, find a middle ground between accuracy and understandability.

Full post here, 14 mins read