This is how someone should explain

Posted by Souptik Datta on 2024-05-13 @ 00:40:59
Disclaimer: Firstly a huge respect for all the teachers out there, and I am by no means pointing out any mistakes. These are just a few of the points that I have learned over time, which I wanted to put out in front of everyone. Additionally, I'd like to give a special shout-out to a YouTube video that inspired this post in the first place.
A few days ago I was re-iterating the concepts of module bundling and all, especially Webpack. And while doing that I came across a YouTube video - Explains Module Bundlers in 3 Levels of Difficulty. That's when I was starstruck by this guy's teaching style and wanted to share some points, I think anyone can take care of when explaining a new complex topic to someone.

Read the room

Before you start to explain the topic, know about your audience. In the video, he gave three explanations for three levels of audience - Junior Engineer, Senior Engineer, and Expert Engineer.
Likewise, when you're explaining a subject to someone completely unfamiliar with it, it's advantageous to adopt the approach of "explain like I am 5". Essentially, this entails using extremely basic examples that the audience can grasp easily or drawing parallels between a practical scenario and the core concept. And as the basics are clear you can escalate and try to explain it in more technical terms.

Leave no questions behind

When you have taken the responsibility of explaining something, then try to leave no loopholes where the audience might still have a question. This might seem a very obvious point, but this is what most of the online videos lack. This is the difference between a "tutorial" and an "explanation".
Let me try to explain with the example from the above video -
At one point, he says that we have to install two npm packages, named webpack and webpack-cli. So, if this had been a "tutorial", then there would have been no explanation of why two packages. We only need webpack right, so what's the difference between those two packages? So, when we are explaining something we have to think as the audience and question every small detail. So, he explains how webpack is the actual module bundler and webpack-cli is just a CLI utility to run the webpack package.
If you pay close attention after this only another question will popup in someone's mind, - "wait, so can't I run webpack without webpack-cli? Do I always need it". And interestingly he covers that point also and gives a simple example of how to do it without webpack-cli.
And that's what it means to "Leave no questions behind".
That being said, I agree that it's not possible to cover everything, therefore let's go to the third and the last point.

Lay the foundation and let them explore

Yet another problem with "tutorials" is that they are just steps to get a thing done. But what did you gain out of that? A project? But was that what you wanted or you wanted some knowledge?
Everything has documentation and anyone can learn that by reading that documentation. Even if we don't know everything about one thing, documentation is meant to be referred to when we don't know a particular thing. Therefore why can't we let them also do the same thing?!
What they actually want from you is to give them the initial foundation and enough encouragement to dive into the big pile of documentation and navigate their ways themselves. Don't expect that you can explain everything to someone. This has to be done by themselves only.
So, aim to elucidate only the essential foundation of the topic. Still unclear? Allow me to illustrate with an example from one of the same individual's videos - Let's talk about webpack.
In this video, he explained Webpack's whole functionality in just four steps. And in reality, there are only these four things only. You don't need an example of a fancy big codebase to explain these four simple steps. And if you notice in each step, he just scratched the base and let us explore the other things on our own, because those things are not required to understand the "concept of webpack", which is the aim of this video.
And that is how he got the time to cover all those small questions, which might pop up in any beginner's mind, which I was talking about in the previous point.
And that's it. Let's try to keep these points in mind at least in our next session, if you are not already, and see if it leads to a better outcome!
Always remember, that you are explaining something to a human and not feeding data to a machine. Right?
Should we send you a notification when new blogs are published?👇
Built with 💻 by Souptik