We science-educated folks often have such a hard time trying to express our knowledge to the public. Sometimes my elementary school kids come to me with that curiosity about the world, and I try to explain to them what atoms are, and their eyes almost pop from their sockets and within a minute, they could care less for what I was saying. Or when my husband got his results of high cholesterol, and I am there explaining the differences between LDL vs HDL and butter versus margarine, and I can tell that he feels like I am speaking in another language.
We forget what it is to not be immersed in our world. However, it is in these little conversations that we have the opportunity to digest, process and explain material that is so obvious to us. There is no magic recipe as you can imagine. There is a lot of trial and error and recognizing when we capture the attention of someone. There is explaining multiple times until something is clear. So the next time you know what works.
Sometimes it may feel like being an educator is a gift, especially when you see people who do it so well, but practice is what is important. Like anything in life, practice is the key. Experimenting with your words, trying to imagine or access what the other party already knows, and taking it from there.
For this reason, the most valuable tools are to be personal, and to use “we” and “I” when writing to show that you care and that you are a part of it. Secondly, what helps for so many people is an image or an analogy, since our brain builds knowledge based on correlations. Get something abstract that they cannot understand and compare it to something else they already know. For example, for my kids, the analogy I used is that atoms are like Lego blocks we use to build things.