- Acronyms, acronyms, acronyms
We all love a good acronym but be careful, they can be a killer. Initially, always write the words out in full, followed by the acronym in brackets. From here on you can just refer to the acronym. This will ensure everyone in your audience understands what you are referencing from the get go. Even if you think they know it, it’s an assumption you can’t afford to make. For example – estimated resident population (ERP)
- An undefined tone
Have you defined exactly who your target audience is and what tone most appeals to them? There is no point writing in a relaxed, unprofessional tone if you’re trying to attract a high level corporate audience, and vice versa. Take the time to clearly define who you are targeting and identify the appropriate tone to match. A writing guideline document can help align your writing to your brand and audience. It doesn’t need to be complex but will help to keep you, and any other employees in check when writing. It also helps with consistency.
- Words that don’t resonate with your audience
Slang, technical names, industry terminology and even swear words could be super important to your audience or could be an instant turn off. Again, identifying your tone and compiling your writing guidelines, complete with do’s and don’ts, should assist. Always look back on your work and make sure it appeals to your audience without any ambiguity around the meanings of words used. Having someone from an unbiased perspective give it a once over for you always helps.
What’s your point?
One of the biggest issues I have found throughout my career is that people write without a clear objective. What point are you trying to convey to your audience and have you achieved it? Make sure your message is easily identified and understood. Quality over quantity reigns!
We’ve all experienced it. The headline grabs us but the content loses us.
I am pretty confident when I say that majority of the time writers lose their audience is because they aren’t talking directly to them, they’re writing for themselves and angling it towards their understanding, with the assumption their audience is at the same level. But think again.
A lot of our blogging, article production, videoing and presentations are created to educate people on our chosen interest, industry or expertise. This means our audience is looking to us to explain it in a way that is easily understood.
Think about work related conversations we have with family and friends not in our industry. Now think about having those same conversations with a work team mate. The structure of your explanation varies significantly, doesn’t it! More often than not, speaking to a colleague is so much easier as we can talk without really thinking, but conveying the same message to family or friends can prove a little more challenging as their understanding isn’t at the same level. Transfer this to your writing and you can see how easily we can slip.
Below are four keys things to be aware of to help you remain true to your audience.
Remember, just because you’re an expert in your field or topic doesn’t mean your audience is. If you’re unsure about how your article will be perceived, ask someone in your target audience for their feedback prior to publishing. If they don’t get it, chances are your wider audience won’t either. If all else fails, employ a professional to write for you. I know a pretty good one.