Book Review: ‘The Art of Explanation’ by Ros Atkins

Elevate Your Communication Skills with Ros Atkins' Insightful Guide


Book Title: The Art of Explanation: How to Communicate with Clarity and Confidence
Author: Ros Atkins
Publisher: Wildfire
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1472298409
Date Published: Sept. 14, 2023
Price: INR 453

The Art of Explanation by Ros Atkins Book Cover

Book Review

Let me explain it to you clearly;

Did you understand what I explained?;

Please don’t give a lame explanation;

Explain, can you?;

All these statements have a common word – explanation. And, the art of explanation is not an easy one. Right from family chores to international issues, explanation creates mobility!

In “The Art of Explanation,” Ros Atkins, a seasoned journalist, shares his expertise in the crucial skill of explaining complex ideas with efficiency and clarity. Drawing parallels between teaching and journalism, Atkins offers valuable insights for educators to enhance their classroom delivery, assemblies, reference writing, and communication via email. One of his key recommendations involves the discomforting yet transformative practice of self-reflection through watching one’s explanations—a method praised by teachers who have employed it to improve their instructional techniques.

Atkins delves into cognitive science, advocating for the reduction of cognitive load through concise sentences and thoughtful visual aids. He emphasizes the importance of connecting new information with prior knowledge, a skill essential for both teachers and journalists. The book provides practical advice on efficient ways to achieve this connection, offering helpful sentence starters and strategies.

The resurgence of storytelling as a pedagogical tool finds a place in Atkins’s book, where he explores various organizational approaches, including the effective ‘big question’ method. Beyond the realms of teaching, Atkins demonstrates the book’s relevance to students, offering valuable tips on writing within word limits and practical advice on preparing for activities in unfamiliar environments.

Navigating the balance between scripted lessons and authenticity is a challenge in education, and Atkins addresses this issue with insights on finding one’s voice. The book resonates with practical tips, ensuring readers can implement the advice effectively. Even in the realm of email etiquette, Atkins provides evidence-based strategies to ensure messages are read and acted upon—a valuable workload-reduction strategy for educators.

Despite its wealth of wisdom, the book can be overwhelming due to the abundance of advice. Certain sections, like the ‘Seven-Step Dynamic Explanation,’ may feel repetitive and could potentially be reserved for a follow-up book. Nonetheless, “The Art of Explanation” stands out as a valuable resource for teachers seeking to elevate their instructional skills.

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Atkins’s journey, as outlined in the book, reflects his dedication to the craft of explanation. His assertive impartiality, meticulous presentation of facts, and dedication to earning the audience’s attention are qualities that make this book a compelling read. Atkins’s engaging writing style, combined with anecdotes from his career, adds a personal touch to the book, making it more than just a dry manual. Readers get a glimpse into his experiences, including missed opportunities and valuable lessons learned.

While “The Art of Explanation” may not provide quick shortcuts, Atkins’s commitment to the art of communication shines through. His meticulous approach, coupled with a clear writing style, makes this book a valuable resource for anyone looking to enhance their explanatory skills, be it in the classroom, the newsroom, or everyday communication.

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