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How to break down complex ideas into engaging content

Imagine your 10-year-old niece asked you to explain how a car moves from point A to B. How would you go about that?


More importantly, how would you keep her engaged while explaining how a car moves?


The truth is, whether you are explaining how a car works to a child or writing about it, presenting a complex idea in an engaging way is very tricky.


Shortly, you'll learn practical techniques for breaking down complex topics into engaging content.


How to break complex topics down into engaging content

Wondering how to simplify a complex idea into engaging and fun-to-read content? Here are 5 practical steps to get it done:

1. Know your audience

Before you dive into a topic, ensure you understand your target audience. When you know who you are talking to, it's easier to guess how much they already know and what they need to know.


Take, for instance, if you are writing about creating effective marketing automation. The first step is identifying your readers as seasonal marketers or newbies.


If they’re new to marketing, you will need to break your topic down to the simplest form.

Also, if you are writing for experts, you don't need to oversimplify when presenting the topic.


You can discover who your target audience is through the following ways:

  • Conduct market research

  • Identify industry trends

  • Create a detailed persona

  • Interview your target readers (or customers)

2. Understand your subject inside-out

There is a saying, “you can’t give what you don’t have”. This saying holds when writing about a complex topic. Without understanding your topic, it’s impossible to explain it to your readers.

So, before you start writing, ensure you understand the topic in-depth.


Here are some ways to learn about a new topic:

  • Listen to relevant podcasts

  • Watch YouTube videos ( workshops, webinars)

  • Read books, research papers, and reports on the topic

  • Interview an expert

  • Visit reputable blogs & publications

  • Visit niche groups & communities (on platforms like Facebook, Slack, Reddit, and Twitter)

While learning about your topic, ensure that you take notes which can come in handy when building a content outline.

3. Use stories and analogies

Who doesn't like a good story?!


A story is a useful tool for breaking down complex topics. It keeps your readers engaged and entertained while presenting a complicated idea. Good stories are also memorable to readers. According to the author of Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Jerome Bruner, "facts are approximately 22 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story."


Imagine learning the ins and outs of the python programming language on a YouTube video. And you are being loaded with lots of industry jargon. At a point, you might end up bored with loads of information. That's exactly how your audience feels when you don't use stories.


Using stories in your writing will help explain your point in a fun-to-read way.


When telling a story, create an emotional connection with your audience. This way, you will get your reader's attention. Emotions also drive them to take necessary actions because they read your content.


Keep your story short and precise. Because adding unwanted details to your story can distract your audience from the main point.


Also, remember to add humor to keep your audience interested. Either a real-life story or an analogy, driving your points home is the goal.

4. Use simple sentences

Avoid industry jargon — especially when your readers don’t know much about the subject. Instead, explain the terminologies that your readers might not be familiar with.


Clear communication does not mean you have to dumb down your content. It only means you are presenting complex topics in a simple way.


With simple sentences, your content will be easy to read and understand.

5. Leverage subject matter experts (SMEs)

Subject matter experts give content the important insight and authority it needs to engage an audience. Also, they deliver trusted information.


It's hard to separate popularity from authority when creating content. But one sure way to create authentic content with authority is by reaching out to SMEs.

The knowledge of SMEs is of great value to you and your readers — especially when writing complex topics.


SMEs also provide you with correct industry terminologies.


Before interviewing an expert, you have to:

  • Create a detailed list of all the questions you want to ask.

  • Avoid yes or no questions. These questions prevent you from getting a detailed explanation from your source.

  • If the SMEs response is not clear, ask a follow-up question for clarity.

  • Keep the interview brief.

Breaking complex topics into engaging content can be tricky — especially when finding the balance between simplifying your content and dumbing things down.


To find the perfect balance, ensure that you understand your target audience inside-out.


Want to hear more from Feyikemi Oyelola? Drop her a line on Twitter!

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4 Comments


Wow!! This is so insightful and enlightening! Thank you so much for this

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Feyikemi Oyelola
Feyikemi Oyelola
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

Thanks for your kind words

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Nadine Heir
Nadine Heir
Sep 20, 2022

This is such a great post, I really enjoyed reading it!

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Feyikemi Oyelola
Feyikemi Oyelola
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it

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