Curse of knowledge 2

The other day I received a link via Twitter for the original Turbo Encabulator movie on YouTube     ( It is worth watching; it is just under 2 minutes long. According to Wikipedia the movie was made in 1977, but the original technical description of the Turbo Encabulator appeared in 1942.  For those of you who don’t know (like I didn’t) what the Turbo Encabulator is, it’s a fictional machine and the presentation describing it is completely full of technobabble.

I have been to presentations that sound a lot like the Turbo Encabulator presentation; I may have given presentations like it too.  The extensive use of technical jargon (technobabble) in a presentation is a symptom of the “curse of knowledge”.  I have talked about the curse before but the Turbo Encabulator is a wonderful, humorous example of the curse in action.

In their book Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Health describe the curse of knowledge as the idea that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it.  The more of an expert we become, the harder it is to communicate our “expertise” to people who are not at our level of understanding. Of course the problem is compounded because people who are experts in their field are often asked to give presentations.  I expect that many of us have experienced the curse and technobabble in action.

So how can you beat the curse and avoid giving a Turbo Encabulator-like presentation?  First realize that the curse is real, and second, follow the Heath brothers 6 principals to SUCCES, tell a Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Story ( It is just about impossible to fill a story with jargon, and stories are engaging and memorable.

Using stories and other persuasive presentation elements such as metaphors, analogies and examples can help your audience remember that your Turbo Encabulator can be successfully used for operating nofer trunnions, and also whenever a barescent skor motion is required.

What’s your favorite “Turbo Encabulator” story?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

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