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How To Write Content That Matters

How To Write Content That Matters

Writing can be tricky and combined with the challenge of having to come up with epic ideas that will engage the masses and wow an audience. Even the toughest of writers can be sent into a panic resulting in – as Homer Simpson so eloquently put it – hiding under some coats and hoping everything will work out.

It’s funny the effort that copywriters will put into honing their craft. Getting better at sculpting a lovely prose and studying what style will best engage an audience when most don’t focus much on the ideas themselves. Who cares if you’ve got a great list, perfectly presented, if the information itself is lame?

So let’s discover some awesome ways to combine ideas and content to create something that your grandchildren will speak of and which will be celebrated globally on the anniversary of its creation! Or, at least something your readers will like.

1. Begin with the problem in mind

Imagine you’re a banker looking for a new suit. You wander into a shop with a mannequin in the store window wearing a suit you like. Once you get inside, a young boy in jeans and a t-shirt greets you.

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“Hey dude, looking for a new skateboard?”

“No, I want a suit like the one in the window.”

“How about a new bike?”

“Suit.”

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“We only have that one suit, you can have it if you want.”

“Why do you have that mannequin if you don’t sell suits?”

“We didn’t want to stop anyone from coming in.”

Every copywriter has been told to keep things “friendly,” or “impartial,” because “We don’t want to offend anyone.” Thing is, the guy looking for a suit would rather keep his attention away from a skate shop than be drawn in by impartiality. If you sell skateboards, you’re never going to sell one to the suit guy – so focus on your core customer. I mean really focus, walk in their shoes and think as they think. You’re trying to get to a point where you understand what they love and hate; either of those two things will do because inherent in both of them is a powerful problem – giving them more of what they love, or less of what they hate.

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2. Turn that problem into a concept

Just telling someone you know why they’re angry isn’t going to make them feel good, so it’s important to take the problem and turn it into a concept, not a solution, a concept. To do this, take their issue and explain to them what will happen if they solve it, and the implications if they choose not to.

“Old suits can make you look haggard, like a scarecrow. You’re probably sick of people throwing things at you and screaming hateful phrases – people hate scarecrows. However, there’s nothing like a new suit to get that promotion, meet the girl of your dreams and take over the world.”

3. From this concept comes the central idea

Draw a circle on a piece of paper, then another circle around that, then another. In the outer circle write the problem, in the second circle the concept, and then look at the center circle.

What you’ll find are several awesome ideas for solving the problem. It won’t come to you straight away so get outside with a notebook and preferably a skateboard, and let the ideas flow. Write everything down – even the stupid stuff – and watch as it takes on a life of its own, morphing into revolutionary ideas that will change minds and transform the world.

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Because that’s why we’re here, right? Writers do this through creating content that matters.

Featured photo credit: War, by Igor Miske via unsplash.com

More by this author

Rhys Knight

Head of Content at www.knight.global

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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