Explain Ethereum to ANYONE in 7 Steps

By 19th June 2017 No Comments

In this post, I am going to discuss the 7 steps I used to explain Ethereum to my wife. This template should work well for anyone that you want to explain Ethereum to. It’s geared towards a non-technical person. But obviously a techy should have no trouble understanding it either.

To get through everything in the 7 steps will take a good hour. You could probably skim over everything in 15 minutes though. It depends on the subject and how much detail they want / can handle.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, this post makes use of resources that are out there already. Naturally linking and crediting the original work to them.

You will normally need to explain Ethereum to a newcomer a few times before they get it. Especially if they aren’t technical. So it helps to have a structured approach like this one when doing it.

Vlog Version of this Post

Step 1 – Infographic: Explain Ethereum to my Mom

My wife is a very visual person. Most people like visuals too. So the infographic Ethereum Explained to my Mom is a very good starting point.

I should point out that the infographic isn’t entirely accurate from a technical standpoint. But its good for an initial high level overview when you begin to explain Ethereum.

Here’s the graphic:

Infographic for Explain Ethereum to my Mom


After going through the infographic with them, talk a bit about the blockchain:

With most websites, information is stored on a server, which is basically just a computer with a database in it that has all of the site’s information. If that computer is damaged, all the data and the website is gone. With blockchain technology, a database is distributed among a great number of people’s computers, so that all information in the database is public and the database can’t really be shut down as long as computers are still contributing to it.

And then talk about the thing that makes Ethereum special – Smart Contracts:

Bitcoin and Ethereum are both cryptocurrencies whose ledgers are stored on a distributed blockchain database like this. The thing that makes Ethereum special, as opposed to other cryptocurrency that uses blockchain technology, is that you can actually execute code on the blockchain in this same distributed way. So now, instead of just using the blockchain as a glorified ledger, you can do something like specify conditions under which a person will be paid, and once those conditions are met the money will automatically go to the person without any outside interference (and in spite of anything that happens to one computer involved in the network). People call these chunks of code ‘smart contracts’, because it’s code that represents an agreement that is able to enforce and execute itself.

Both of the above explanations are taken from this post on Ethereum Stack Exchange

Step 3 – Official Ethereum Infographic

Are they keeping up? They should have at least a reasonable, high-level understanding now.

Next, follow up with this infographic from the official Ethereum documentation . This one goes into a bit more depth, and should reinforce and expand on what they know so far as you continue to explain Ethereum.

Infographic Beginner's Guide to Ethereum

Step 4 – Explanation Videos

Now that you have bombarded them with explanations and infographics, it can be good to follow up with some videos.

  • Ethereum for Dummies by Gavin Wood  – This was one of the first videos I watched. It’s a great non-technical intro to Ethereum. I found that, by having your subject watch the video AFTER you have given some other explanations, they resonate with it more. Or, if they don’t understand it at all yet, this should certainly help.


  • Blockchain is Eating Wall Street by Alex Tapscott – Everyone loves a Ted Talk, and this one on blockchain is particularly good. Following up with this video should peak your subject’s interest. And get them thinking about the future implications of this tech.


  • Vitalik Buterin explains Ethereum – You can’t explain Ethereum completely without talking about the founder Vitalik. This short video will likely go over a lot of your subject’s head. But people are always blown away when they first see him. “How old is he!?” “Is he a genius?” “Is he an alien!?” (probably, yes)

Step 5 – Cryptocurrency Price Discussion

Perhaps nothing has interested them so far (unlikely). Or perhaps they are already hooked. Either way, seeing the incredible increase in the price of Ethereum and Bitcoin this year will impressive them. It will naturally trigger a “I want to be involved in some of that” response.

You can find good accurate charts for Bitcoin and Ethereum prices on Coindesk.

Of course, you must advise them that investing is always risky! Prices can go up as well as down. We could be in a bubble etc.

It’s just very interesting to see how the price of the currency has skyrocketed this year.

Step 6 – Google Trends

Finally, you can prove that Ethereum isn’t some super obsecure, flash in the pan, ridiculous techy project that only you and your geeky friends are interested in. Show them the Google trends chart. The widespread interest only started in Feb 2017.

Google Trends chart of Ethereum and Bitcoin

Its particularly interesting comparing it next to Bitcoin. Seeing how interest for that spiked in 2013. Then went quiet for a while. And is now back with a vengeance.

Step 7 – Further Reading

Your subject is likely exhausted by now. And suffering from information overload. This is some additional material you can send to them. To digest when they have recovered a bit:


If your subject made it through all this material, they should have a solid understanding of Ethereum now. Hopefully they are excited and keen to learn more.

Think there should be some other material added to this article? Leave a comment below and I will get it added!

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