Adapting a Writing Style Adapting a specialized and highly technical article for a general audience may seem as difficult as explaining brain surgeryto a six year old. Whether we are trying to describe a medical procedure or introduce a new technology, there will be a time when we must covey very complex ideas in a language that the average person can understand. Adapting specialized writing for a general audience demands that we alter our vocabulary, paragraph structure, and use descriptive English.
Technical writing often refers to theories and paradigms that are outside the understanding of the general audience. Rather than referring to the Kinetic Theory of Matter, it would be more useful to say that all matter is made up of very small particles and their make-up and energy determines whether it is a solid, liquid, or gas. In addition, highly technical vocabulary, jargon, and buzzwords need to be eliminated and replaced by more generally understood terms. For example, instead of referring to the C level employees (CEO, CFO), it would be more informative to refer to them as executives. These simple modifications pave the way for an easily understood article.
Writing is also a process where we try to inform by creating a written connect the dots article. Specialists, with a large body of knowledge, may be able to make inferences and connections that are not available to the general audience. Paragraphs need to be carefully constructed with a logical flow that can easily be followed. Paragraphs should have a transition to let the audience know when the topic is shifting and the direction that it is taking. Statements must be constructed that offer enough explanation without becoming so complex that the reader gets lost. This usually involves shorter statements that are supported with short explanations. This helps guide the reader through the complexities of the material.
The complexities of the technical information can also be presented by the use of metaphors and similes. Instead of telling your audience that the new cable modem has a bandwidth of 30 mega bits per second, it would be more picturesque to say that the modem transfers 2,000 pages of written text per second or as many as six complete novels. While few readers will understand Mbps, everyone knows how big a novel is. The audience is not interested in the technical specifications. they are simply looking for comparisons to the things they know.
In conclusion, adapting a technical article for a general audience is really just a matter of putting it into plain English. That doesnt mean making it bland, but rather making it exciting and understandable. Using common vocabulary to describe the theories or processes involved keeps that audience interested. Using metaphors and descriptive language paints a picture for the audience that they can relate to. Adapting a technical article for a general audience is simply a matter of using the language as a bridge between the highly specialized and the common experience that we all share.