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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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 ratings  ·  108 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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (first published October 3rd 2012)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,182 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-book-list
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.

Nurlan Imangaliyev
A team of people who specialize in explaining things via short videos didn't have to stretch this book for so many (for such a book) pages. Had to skip through some parts. Enjoyed the last few chapters more than the rest of the book.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Daniyar Kamal
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book gave me some insights about explaining, and how should we explain. The most interesting and useful part maybe packaging your explanation and common errors that people make.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Must-read for communicators but it will not show nothing new if you are already doing talks and presentations often.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Ryan O'Connor
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media, business
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
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Justin Price
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Manel Pique
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: it-books
It helped me to understand why my explanations tended to fail and how to improve them in order to become a better professional.

It's also good to know that everything in the book is very well explained :)

Alaeddin Hallak
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: communication
If you have an idea, product or service you want to entice people with or simply explain it in an effective way, this is the book for you. Great book with no none-sense approach to crafting highly effective explanations that help people just get it!
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is simple to understand and gives me a different perspective of the importance of Explanation.
Jul 14, 2014 added it
This book gave me so much confidence in my abilities to explain something to people. It works in all areas of life! Thanks to the author.
Igor Malyarov
Jun 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Huge waste of time. This “book” should be ten times shorter. Or better 20 times.
It could be a nice piece in a blog if somebody with language skills rewrite it.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We need to see the forest before the trees.

The challenge is to take ideas that are in plain sight and transform them into something more useful. I recently read an interview with author David McCullough that frames this idea in terms of “seeing” what is in front of everyone. The interviewer asks about a motto that McCullough has hanging framed over his desk. His answer (The Paris Review, 2012):

It says, “Look at your fish.” It's the test that nineteenth-century Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz ga
Sam Motes
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business-reads
Basic message of ‘The Art of Explanation’ is to do your homework to know your audience and all of your audience, know the key message(s) you need to convey, build the What In It For Me (WIFM) for your audience, and build stories when appropriate to drive home the message rather than just list facts. Nothing earth shattering here if you have read other how to books on giving presentations but some good examples to drive home the point.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it

As for me this book was good. I think that you should read this book if you want to know more about communication and how to explain some information for some people.
But you should know two points of this book. First is that half of book is CommonCraft's practice how to explain some thing in short videos, as for me it's plus but some people like more abstract examples.
The second point is that this book is pretty big according to it's essences.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
it's an interesting read - it has outline the method the author used in his company and the book is written based on the method described in the book.

I think the book can help someone to make better explanation in a work setting. However, using the method again and again to explain the concept of the book makes it repetitive, especially for readers who want quick action steps
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Although the book is somewhat helpful in certain areas, overall it feels like a big advertisement for their company. I don't blame them, but it was not what I was looking for. I wish it would have focused more on general Explanation tactics than how they spend their time making videos.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Changed how I present.
Always drawing.
People love to learn via pictures.
Ravi Sridharan
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book should not have been more than 30 pages.
Tosin Toshine
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book if you are looking to improve the way you explain ideas. It takes a concept like Explanation and builds a framework around it for easy use.
Heath Lympaney
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Useful as a reference, but not as impactful as I hoped it would be.

I was looking for more than I found. I think if I was new to this space, and if you are, then it would be helpful.
Amy Lopez
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It was pretty good, but I think it could have been much shorter.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just wow! A must read book for everyone!
Enrique  Martinez
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice book, maybe not a solid research and with good examples but nothing superb.
Artem Fedorov
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pretty basic things are explained in too much detail and volume. This book could be much shorter.
Ibrahim Niftiyev
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Still, I learned a lot of things. Even if it was my second reading.
Oleg Novitskiy
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book!
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83 likes · 45 comments
“Make me see”—perhaps the best thing we can hope to accomplish from an explanation.” 0 likes
“根據我的研究,說明高手比一般人更擅長指引方向。為什麼?我猜是因為他們可以體會第一次抵達某個地點的感受,所以能夠排除自己原已熟悉的事物,專注在駕駛每次轉彎時可能看到的東西上。” 0 likes
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