One of the tools we use in creating explainer videos is abstraction. We look for opportunities to take the ideas that we want to explain out of their normal circumstance and put them into a new world. An example is our video that explains social media. It's a big analogy about ice cream. Instead of talking about the details of tools and use cases, we showed what happens when everyone can make their own flavors.
By abstracting an idea, we work to free it of all the details, biases and baggage that comes with the real world situation. Instead, we use symbols, metaphors and analogies to relate higher level ideas. It's these idea that have the power to ceate understanding. Once understanding is in place, then the details make more sense.
Vox pointed me to a video that was sponsored by the Global Commission on Drug Policy that is a great example of abstraction. Rather than using real world examples, they use a fictional story about how a society dealt with a dragon called Drugo. The video is called The War on Drugo. Watch:
Reading in email? Watch the video here.
The next time you're struggling to make an idea easy to understand, consider the power of abstraction. Look for ways to take the big ideas out of the real world and put them in a world that highlights them without all the baggage.