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Communicating Complex Information: Presenting Your Ideas Clearly and Effectively

Understand how to communicate complex information to lay audiences and develop your professional communication skills.

11,922 enrolled on this course

Communicating Complex Information: Presenting Your Ideas Clearly and Effectively
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours

Understand how to communicate complex information to lay audiences

In a time when experts are all too often ignored or misunderstood, communicating complex information accurately to inexperienced audiences is a prized skill. This course will help your develop this skill. You will learn specific strategies to get your ideas across in a more impactful way; discovering how to organise your messages, techniques for explaining abstract ideas, and how to use and create visuals to enhance understanding.

What topics will you cover?

  • Three different explanation models: quasi-scientific, transformation and elucidating
  • Barriers to effective explanations including myths
  • The importance of audience analysis in effectively communicating complex ideas
  • Using analogies to explain abstract ideas.
  • Effective organization in oral presentations
  • Infographics.
  • Creating organisational structures.
  • Producing charts which enhance audience understanding.

What will you achieve?

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Use different methods to overcome the barriers that most audiences face when learning complex information
  • Apply practices for organizing and explaining ideas orally
  • Design presentation slides for improved audience understanding
  • Communicate complex ideas or material to various audiences.

What topics will you cover?

Course Topics

  • Three different explanation models: quasi-scientific, transformation and elucidating
  • Barriers to effective explanations including myths
  • The importance of audience analysis in effectively communicating complex ideas
  • Using analogies to explain abstract ideas
  • Effective organization in oral presentations
  • Infographics
  • Creating organisational structures
  • Producing charts which enhance audience understanding

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Present complex ideas to non-expert audiences
  • Apply practices for organizing and explaining ideas orally
  • Design presentation slides for improved audience understanding
  • Investigate different methods to overcome the barriers that most audiences face when learning complex information

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone who has to explain new ideas to lay publics where there are vast differences between the speaker and their audience in their command of the content. It will be of particular use to teachers, scientists, communication experts, financial experts and medical experts.

What do people say about this course?

"I was a bit anxious about making my own presentation and posting it up online for you all to see and critique - but I did it! And what was really great, was how easy it was having done this course, because I could watch myself using the transformative explanation and check whether I was 'hitting the mark' or not at each stage. Putting my learning into practice really made me think about how to frame my information so the central story/theme/topic was enhanced by the visuals, the tone of voice, the choice of words and the use of humour. I left out a lot of interesting information in my presentation because, although interesting, it didn't add to the core message. That was a useful process to go through too - what to leave out!"

"Thank you for this course. I sincerely learned a lot of key presentation tools. I also really enjoyed all the feedback. A really great group of peers. Thanks again!"

Who will you learn with?

Melanie Morgan is an associate professor of communication at Purdue. She teaches classes in science communication and quantitative research methods and is the author of Effective Presentations.

I am the assistant course director for Science Writing and Communication at Purdue and a PhD candidate in interpersonal communication. I research the “light side” of communication like humor and play.

Who developed the course?

Purdue University

One of the four best public universities in the US, Purdue delivers an engaging learning experience and a world-class degree.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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