A lot of today’s content is confusing, unnecessarily complicated, and difficult to understand…and it confuses your prospects and customers. If they can’t understand what you’re trying to say, then your content is not very useful, right?
However, if you can write sharp, clear, straightforward, intelligent, and easy-to-understand content, it becomes practically effortless for people to see the value in it. With clarity in your writing, they’ll keep reading…and ultimately want to deal with your business.
Writing with clarity will make your content more powerful and compelling. According to HubSpot, “It turns heads, changes minds, and encourages action.” But you must follow a few simple tips and keep practicing them.
Know exactly what you want to say to whom
Writing clearly takes a whole lot more than making a few tweaks. It’s a different way of thinking, even before you start writing a word, you should:
- Know your subject!
- Know the point you want to make!
- Know your structure!
- Know your audience inside-out!
Ask dumb (obvious) questions…write to a grade schooler
Ask the questions that make you feel stupid, because they will provoke simple answers. If you act or write like you have a thorough understanding of a topic—when you don’t—the topic you’re writing about will have overly complicated language. To serve your ultimate goal of explaining new information to your audience, write with a novice mindset and avoid jargon, if possible. (Bonus Tip: After you use spell check in MS Word, a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level comes up. You should try to keep it to a reading level at 8th grade or below, if you want real clarity.)
Be familiar with your audience…and talk to them
The better you know who you’re talking to, the more clearly you can communicate to them. When you write, think to yourself, “How can I help the user understand this better?” It helps to use short (easy) words, short sentences, have only one idea in each sentence, and define unfamiliar words. Also, be sure to carefully explain your topic in terms that relate to the readers’ needs (instead of bland features no one can relate to).
Talk to people, not above them. Crafting your message with a particular audience in mind will ensure your message is heard and not missed by your target audience.
Create straightforward analogies and examples (be specific!)
Compare and contrast a complicated subject or concept to something well-known. How is it similar or different? For example, we recently created content for a psychologist that was experienced in handling women’s issues. First, we discussed sample concerns, like feeling stressed, overwhelmed, sad, discouraged…”like no matter how hard you try, you are just not good enough.” Then, to bring the point home we provided specific examples: “Maybe you’re having difficulty finding love, maybe you just had a new baby, maybe you and your significant other are not communicating well anymore, or maybe you have set unattainable expectations to be a superwoman. Perhaps, you simply don’t love what you’re doing professionally, anymore.” All this helps the reader identify with the specific examples.
Get to the point…and stick to it
Great communicators understand the importance of getting to the point fast. This guarantees that your audience hears what you are trying to say, rather than getting lost trying to figure out your point. By getting straight to the point, you will keep the attention of your audience and share your message more effectively. Try summarizing your main points in the beginning with bullet points, then provide the detail and deeper explanation and finally summarize again at the end. (Bonus tip: Don’t forget to include your call to action!)
Write single sentence paragraphs
Why should you do this?
Because it makes content scannable.
Most users don’t read every word. Instead, they skip entire words, sentences, and even sections. They can miss your message entirely.
Single-sentence paragraphs cause the eye to
It’s a simple technique, and it increases clarity.
Say it over and over
In today’s hectic and noisy environment, great communicators realize they must saturate their writing with the message they want people to receive. Give your message the repetition required for the audience to retain the information…at least 7 times. (One of the oldest imperatives in marketing is the rule of 7 advocating that your prospective buyer needs to hear or see your marketing message at least seven times before they buy from you.)
Leverage writing tools
You may well want to turn to two tools I’ve discovered: Hemingway Editor and Grammarly.
The Hemingway App is designed to make your writing bold and clear two ways:
- The Hemingway Editor cuts the dead weight from your writing by highlighting wordy sentences in yellow and more egregious ones in red.
- Hemingway helps you write with power and clarity by highlighting adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words.
The downloadable version for Mac or Windows is $9.99.
Grammarly is an advanced proofreading software that is free to download. It enhances clarity and makes your writing easier to understand. It finds and corrects up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor. (There also is an enhanced paid subscription version).
Talk to Solamar
That’s the easiest way of all to have the clearest content every time. At Solamar we have the content experts that know exactly how to clearly and succinctly deliver your message. Give us a shout!