This blog is where we announce new videos & talk about the power of explanation & the change it can create. 

Nice Animated Explainer on Planet Earth (and an Intellectual Leap)

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The video above by Kurzgesagt is rather long and packed with information, but presented in a manner that makes it easy to understand thanks to good writing and really compelling visuals. I love that it has little humorous bits, like the Secret Dinosaur Society (05:31). Notice the subtle use of comparative visuals, like the deepest hole humans have ever drilled (03:25) when discussing the earth's crust. Overall I think it's great work.

I do have one quibble

In the past I've written about the Intellectual Leap. This is when an explanation suddenly goes over the audience's head and causes them to lose confidence. Here's how I described it previously:

Imagine a well designed explanation as a series of steps. The audience is guided along with understandable examples and points that build on one another.  The steps are small and consumable.
 
Common Craft Leaps 1
 
An intellectual leap happens when a step is too big. The audience is suddenly confronted with an idea, word or example that is unfamiliar or not understandable. They get stuck.
 
 
This is a common problem with explanations and it’s important because it impacts one of the most important elements of successful explanations: the audience’s confidence.  When confidence is shaken, explanations fail.

When watching a video like the one above, I look for intellectual leaps. Like all explanations, this video can only be judged by its intentions and potential audience. For the most part, the video uses technical but understandable langauge.

But at the 00:52 mark it discussed how earth was formed. It says "The gas cloud became denser in its center and formed an accretion disk". From my perspective, that's an intellectual leap that could impact confidence. What is an accretion disk? Do I need to understand that too? By not answering these questions, the audience could feel lost and that feeling can erode overall effectiveness. 

The question is: Did that specific idea need to be included? Could the leap have been avoided by leaving it out? Would that have compromised the bigger idea?

Answering these questions is the challenge of every explainer - and it's not easy. But looking for leaps in your communications is one way to approach being more understandable.