Writing is about communication, plain and simple. But not all writing is created equal, and your content will be different depending on your objectives.
For example, with business writing, there’s a goal. You want people to DO something. However, they might not want to do it. Or they might not understand exactly what you want them to do, or why it’s so important. So, you need to be clear about what you want from them and persuasive enough that they will agree to do it.
Here are 7 ways to communicate more clearly in your books (as well as emails, blog posts, proposals, and websites) to increase the likelihood that your readers will do exactly what you want them to.
1. Short is the New Black
In today’s fast-paced world, people are used to absorbing information rapidly.
A headline. A tweet. A sound bite.
Given that so much content is competing for our attention, we are really required to get to the point quickly.
Write simpler words.
For exceptions such as blog posts or website content where you are striving for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can still get to the point quickly by using subheads.
2. Set Expectations Early
For longer works, give your readers a quick summary right up front. Tell them the basics of what you will elaborate on. The same applies to the beginning of book chapters.
Make it easy for people to skim and scan by using subheadlines and contextual cues. Most people are going to skim and scan anyway, to see if the information is relevant or helpful. So, you might as well make it easy for them. Make sure your headers and bullet points tell the gist of your story in case they don’t read any further.
3. Use Calls to Action
Have you ever read something and said to yourself, “Okay. So what am I supposed to do with this information?” Don’t leave your readers hanging. Ask them clearly to do something specific.
Buy this product.
Share this post.
Comment to let me know what you think.
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A good rule of thumb is to ask them to do just ONE thing per article or email. If you ask them to choose between multiple actions, they might not do any of them.
4. Speak Plainly
There’s no need to use $10 words! (Trust me—no one cares about your awesome vocabulary…except maybe your mom.)
Your audience isn’t dumb, but they are busy. It’s best to keep your work at a 6th-grade reading level. (You can check this through MS Word within the Proofing tab by selecting “Show Readability Statistics”.)
Also, avoid industry jargon or acronyms when possible. If it’s necessary to use such terms, define them clearly.
5. Give Examples
Your content will be more relevant and engaging if you use stories. Examples from pop culture can be a fun easy way to get your point across. You can draw from Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Die Hard. Just make sure your target audience is likely to understand the references!
You can also use actual case studies from students or clients. Make sure you obtain permission to use real names, or disguise them as needed. If you are creative, you can certainly make up fictitious examples as well. The idea is to create a mental picture that helps readers understand your point more clearly.
One easy way to bridge over to an example is to say, “It’s kind of like . . . “.
It’s kind of like . . . waving a magic wand to clarify what you’re saying. (See what I did there?)
6. Get Little Agreements
Customers buy when they know, like, and trust you, right?
So, give them little ways to say “yes”, okay?
When they agree on the little things, studies show they will be more likely to agree to the big things. Does that make sense?
Did you find yourself nodding at the points made above? (You just did it again, didn’t you?)
Those short and simple questions are known as “trial closes.” They help encourage trust and likeability. If I asked you to take a bit of time or effort to do something, you’d be more likely to comply because you’ve already agreed with me several times. Haven’t you?
7. Think From the Other Side
To ensure that your message is clear and comprehensive, consider any possible questions the reader might have, and address them proactively.
Who is reading this piece of writing? Are they novices or experts? Use appropriate language.
What questions are they likely to have? Answer them.
What objections might they have? Address them.
What are some potential mistakes they could possibly make? Clarify what they should do or not do.
What should they do next? Clearly request ONE action.
Use these simple suggestions to create persuasive emails, strong proposals, insightful books, engaging websites, and enticing sales funnels. And watch your writing—and your business—improve dramatically.