The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand
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The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Your guide to becoming an explanation specialist.

You’ve done the hard work. Your product or service works beautifully - but something is missing. People just don’t see the big idea - and it’s keeping you from being successful. Your idea has an explanation problem.

The Art of Explanation is for business people, educators and influencers who want to improve their explanation...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (first published October 3rd 2012)
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This wasn't a worthless read, and I may even reference a few things in the future. But this book was too general to be the guide that I was looking for. The author, as he himself analogizes, kind of left me standing by the side of the pool instead of helping me to jump in.

My particular complaint is that the author consistently, in word and deed, underestimates the danger of ignoring and annoying more knowledgeable audience members on any topic. This book annoyed me, because I already thought eno...more
Ryan O'Connor
One of the things that interested me about this book was the concept that explaining is a skill. Like any skill, your ability to help people understand the world around them can be improved. This book does several things well in its three main parts, planning, packaging, and presenting explanations. Coming from the data analysis / business intelligence field, it's easy to become enamored with an analysis, but until other people understand what you understand, you haven't finished your analysis....more
The reference and instruction staff at my library is reading this as a team right now, or I might not have ever heard of this book. It isn't necessarily the sort of book that immediately grabs me (I do enough nonfiction reading for my master's coursework right now). In spite of that, I enjoyed it. It was a quick read, and I found it to be a helpful one since my job involves a great deal of explaining the way things work in our library to others. A lot of the points the author makes feel like thi...more
Definition: "An explanation describes facts in a way that makes them understandable. The intent of an explanation is to increase understanding. If I explain coffee roasting, I am clarifying the facts and making the ideas more understandable. For example, an explanation may highlight the role of heat in giving coffee a distinctive color and flavor when roasted." (P.10) [highlight ~ curate]

Not a description, definition, instruction, elaboration, report, or illustration per se. "Explanations make f...more
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand by Lee LeFever was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2013.


It doesn’t matter how wonderful a product you’ve created, if you can’t simply explain it to someone, there is little chance it will ever be purchased. Into this dilemma steps author and “Chief Explainer” Lee LeFever with his book The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products an...more
Jay Ehret
This is a simple book designed to introduce you to the Art of Explanation with a simple framework. It is devoid of intricacies on purpose. If you are looking for a deep dive into the forrest this book is not for you. I found it immensely helpful in providing a framework for explanation and helping me provide explanations to potential clients not cursed with my knowledge.

The book is a little long, however, and could have been about 1/3 shorter. It's as if the publisher told Lee the book was too...more
I really love this book. I find the illustrations helpful, especially the visual aid of the A-Z scale of understanding and the objective of helping others progress along that scale.
It is simple to understand and gives me a different perspective of the importance of Explanation.
A must-read for communicators, or anyone who has to explain information, concepts or presents. My notes:

Explanation: An explanation describes facts in a way that makes them understandable. The intent of an explanation is to increase understanding.

What do great explainers have in common: empathy. Great explaners have the ability to picture themselves in another person's shoes and communicate from that perspective.

Without a way to explain something effectively, we limit its ability to spread.

Aaron Bolin
The Art of Explanation is a very approachable "how to" guide for creating explanations. I thought it was wonderfully clear and well-organized. LeFever has a knack for simplifying concepts without dumbing them down too much.

In terms of criticism, parts of the book come off as a transparent commercial for the Common Craft video production company. In all fairness though, I watched several Common Craft videos recommended in the text -- the videos provided excellent real-life application examples of...more
John Osman
LeFever's company, CommonCraft, started with the task of explaining technical developments or products to non-technical people. If anyone has ever had an engineer or IT person try to explain something to them you know how frustrating it is to be on the receiving end of their communication! LeFever uses "crafty" imagery and short videos to explain the essence of many new digital products (Twitter, FaceBook, etc...)

I found this book helpful to explain explaining to Christian religious educators, w...more
Kare C Anderson
In our increasingly complex yet connected world, many people are talking about the importance of individuals and organizations going social, getting closer with key stakeholders, co-creating with customers and other kinds of collaboration. We hear more talk of transparency and trust. Yet none of this can lead to success, even with the smartest talent and apt analytics, if people don’t understand what you are offering. First, you need to know exactly how to describe your product, service or idea...more
Larry Friedman
I bought this book hoping to help me be better at business training presentations. I do a lot of talks on complicated matters of legal compliance. I want to switch from being able to lay out lots of detail for professionals to giving the big picture to executives in a way that is clear, engaging, and inspires action. I think the core of that is in this book. But, I think it will be very hard to apply the principles explained in this book to complex topics for smart people. With all due respect,...more
Jessica (j*&p*)
There was a lot to like about this book. Yet another affirmation that we think and learn new information in story. Nearly every human being could stand to learn something about communicating their ideas more clearly and effectively. The early chapters were especially interesting to me and I was able to implement the ideas in some of my work and presentations right away.

Some of the later chapters though felt a little tedious to me. And although overall the book had a lot of great take away, I st...more
Steve Goodyear
This has some pretty good ideas on explanations, but it kept losing me in some of the storytelling, which the book claims as a great way to explain. The problem for me was the characters seemed too made up, so things like "Meet Bob..." didn't give me much to care about Bob and gave the impression that the whole story was fake and made up, and thus not really engaging nor interesting, leaving me wishing the story got more to the point rather than drawing out the explanation in some made up tale w...more
I have a major crush on Common Craft and what they're able to do with a bit of paper, some markers and a video camera.

The book fell a little short for me in comparison to the awesomeness of their videos, but I jotted down a handful of ideas that will help me "sell" the library's new website, so yay!
I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the way things were laid out by concept and the use of stories to explain them. I particularly enjoyed the explanation of the knowledge curse. I work in a technical field and sometimes when I explain a problem or a solution I start much further down the understanding continuum than my audience is.

I also enjoyed the discussion of using stories to explain ideas and the explanation of the benefits of different mediums.

I hope to be able to apply these concepts t...more
A great backbone read as I developed a new talk that wound up being about explaining. I use a different method to structure my content than what LeFever outlines, but that outline plays well with mine. Recommended highly!
lilian Zack
The content is tedious and it could be cut a half or even more. The recommendations are too general to provide guidance, almost I would say chiche or common sense. The only thing I feel useful is the scripts for the common craft videos
I like the kind of book that takes a narrow topic, makes it somewhat unique, and just tells you how to do something. The Common Craft folks, purveyors of videos that explain things, define their niche and show exactly how it's done. It ain't rocket science, but their product has a well-thought out method behind it. In my book, good business books either change your way of thinking or make you want to act, and this one does both, in a relatively short volume. Well done.
Abdulaziz Alzain
This book is a must read! If you want to be the CEO (Chief Explanation Officer) at your organization this book will be your guide to become one. What I liked about this book is it teaches you how to become an explanation expert and tell your story in less than 4 minutes. Also it teaches you how to make it less complicated for the people who knows nothing about your product or service or don't know how to use it. Read it and thank me later!
anyone who want to improve their ability to convey messages should read this. Quite practical, you can apply in many fields and not always about work. Some people born with ability to communicate easily but for some people it takes much more practice. However, I have a specific need and this book does not directly address my need. For me, the book is a bit too generic.
Mr. Price
As the author points out, we tend to take explanations for granted, but once you read a few chapters, you look at things a little differently (especially PowerPoint slides). Even if you don't learn any new techniques or ideas by reading this, it still makes you more mindful of how you explain.
With all the information overload, I often wish people would get to the point. This book helps you learn how to do that by teaching you to simplify your message while considering your audience. There's more to it, of course, but you'll have to read the book to get the details. It's a good read.
John Fields
Never wanting to be a salesperson I needed to know what those yahoos talk about when they meet clients and why they are so successful in talking to them... then I realized that I have the same knack - I just didn't know how to apply it to what I do... but - now I do.
I liked this book and the idea behind it I can even see myself using some of the information. I just thought the ideas could have been more condensed. He took too long to explain his ideas. In my opinion the book could have been half as thick.
Alan Reeves
Great book that gets you to think about how you explain things. It has a bunch of great ideas about how to structure your explanation, the importance of context and story, and links to tons of great videos.
Jeff Stern
The book on explanations naturally does a phenomenal job of explaining them. Very succinct, easy read that really helped me think through and defined a process for product/idea communication.
Chris Gray
Great concept! Love the simplicity, the scale of understanding, and how people process ideas. Numerous application possibilities. A great tool for anyone who needs to communicate ideas!
Grace Kelly
This book is a great tool for learning how to explain your self. The author did a great job making each chapter short and to the point with practical examples and concepts.
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