- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

How to make the complex digestible

23rd March, 2023

How to make the complex digestible

I’m taking time off over Easter – are you?


I’ll be on a sun lounger for a few days with a big ol’ pile of books.


I normally take a smorgasbord of titles, with something for every stage of my holiday:


Days 1-4

Instantly forgettable, guilty pleasure chicklit that allows my brain to dribble gently out of my ears.


Always donated to the hotel library afterwards as a) I’ll never reread them and b) I’m too much of a book snob to put them on my shelf at home.


Days 5-10

More refined fiction, recommended by friends and family, with maybe a couple of Booker shortlisters thrown in. Thought-provoking, but not too much like hard work. 


Days 11-14

Now I’m fully rested, it’s time for the big guns – generally non-fiction for my own ‘betterment’. These mammoth doorstops account for 25% of my luggage allowance (‘Sapiens’, I’m looking at you).


It’s a tried and tested process that sees me get through a wide selection of books each holiday.  Do you do the same?


But it wasn’t always like this. I used to skip the easy stuff and try to dive straight in to the doorstops, forgetting I often don’t have the energy for them at the start of the holiday.


And, of course, they’d never leave my suitcase. (Barack Obama travelled with me on 6 different holidays.  Well, his autobiography at least.)


So I’ve learnt over the years to gently ease myself into the harder stuff.


And this is a useful little technique you can steal, if you need to get complex or technical stuff over to a non-technical audience.


1. Ease them in gently with more familiar information. A small bite-sized chunk that’s easy to digest.

2. Check they’ve understood it with questions and discussion. Make them feel comfortable.

3. Move to more technical or complicated information only once you have this solid foundation.


It’s a technique called ‘layering’ that works brilliantly.  Try it!


And do give me your book recommendations – whatever category they fall in to.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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