“Are you talkin’ to Me?”
An old business adage reminds us that “The customer isn’t always right, but he is always the customer.”
Every reader is a “customer” who wants to get something of value from you. So make him or her the center of your universe while you’re writing. What they need and how they see things should drive the way you prepare your piece, choose what words to use, and polish what you’ve written.
Anything less is like talking to a mirror, and a waste of everybody’s precious time.
- Eliminate “I-me-my.” Plan each sentence and paragraph so you stay in the background; if you can’t think of how to write a sentence so it enriches and focuses on your reader’s world, get rid if it. Nothing turns us off as fast as first-person singular. Show you’re important by offering real value, don’t tell us.
- Make your writing easy to follow and digest. The Mind Map tool will help keep your progression of ideas logical and give them an appealing flow. Do whatever you can to make your piece easy and fun to read, so the person at the other end of this silent conversation will actually read it. Turn your ears into “secret agents,” by reading everything out loud all the time and trusting them to tell you what isn’t right. If you trip over something or get lost, chances are good that readers will too; so change it.
- Due diligence will help you know what the reader considers valuable. Always be aware of what he or she is interested in and looking for. There are many resources available to help with this. LinkedIn, for example, has become more than anything a great marketing research tool. Join groups that your readers belong to, and stay up to date on comments posted there. It’s a great way to capture the trends, topics of current interest and new vocabulary that your readers are talking about. Follow their lead.
- Knowing what they know also helps you avoid talking down to them and repeating what they probably already know. It adds credibility. What you’re writing should be very close to what you’ve learned they’re reading and talking about.
- Begin your sentences with action verbs when feasible. This makes the reader feel like they’re in the center of your conversation, keeps them interested, and adds extra entertainment value. Pop! Pop!
- If you don’t get enough feedback to know how informative, effective and readable your writing is, ask readers for it. Then correct the course of your next piece–its theme, style and intent–before you start writing it. Soliciting comments and suggestions is always a great investment of a good writer’s time.
[Tomorrow: Read my Lips: It’s the Engagement!]