The Secret to Developing Content that Appeals to Everyone

Audience listens to someone with good communication skills

Have you ever written something that you thought was epic? Something that you were sure would help all who read it, only to find you just didn’t get the response you were hoping for….

Don’t worry, It happens to everyone, sometimes things just don’t go to plan. But there is a way to increase your chances of success when communicating your message and it is really simple to do.

In this post I’m going to show you how to develop good communication skills and deliver your message in a way that hits the mark every. single. time.

Why people respond well to a learning based approach

The most common reason why a reader (learner) will have trouble processing a concept is because most people just present them with information on its own. Sometimes this can work, if it is clear and simple, but it often misses the mark.

Information needs to be presented in a structured way, so that learners have a way to relate to it.

One of the easiest ways to structure information is to present it in a learning based format. The term may be a little foreign to you, but it is very likely that you are already familiar with the language and structure used.

The structure of learning based content is very basic, it follows the same principles as all good storytelling:

  1. beginning
  2. middle
  3. end

Simple right? you’ve been told this since you first started writing stories at school. There are however, some very important rules that need to be followed in order to make this structure effective.

The beginning

We all know it is important to make a good first impression and engage your reader from the start, but the key to a good beginning is to set the scene for your reader. When you apply a learning based structure, you take this a step further and explicitly define the learning outcomes they should achieve.

If you scroll back up and have a look at the beginning of this post, you can see that I told you that I would show you how to communicate your message in a way that hits the mark every single time.

That’s it, the outcome is now defined and you, the reader know exactly what to expect to learn. It really isn’t that hard to do, but a lot of people miss this very basic principle. Someone that does do this well is Ramsay The Blog Tyrant, he tells me it isn’t intentional, but he does a great job of presenting clear outcomes in everything he writes.

Another very smart thing to do when you are trying to teach someone something is to take them through all of the stages involved. Many people jump right into the doing and forget about simple things, like the planning and preparing involved in undertaking a task.

It might sound trivial, but you wouldn’t start cooking from a recipe without all the right ingredients in front of you. The same applies to any learning activity, good communication skills are required to clearly explain all of the steps, from start to finish.

The middle

This is where you do all your storytelling. It might involve a case study or the presentation of data, you may argue or analyse a particular perspective and offer plenty of background information to help support it, or relate a personal experience that you want to share. The middle is where you really take control and reach out to your reader using the right language.

The trick when using a learning based approach is to ensure that you can draw a relationship between your story and the learning outcome that you are trying to achieve.

This is where good communication skills really come into their own. You do not want to alienate your reader here. It is really important that you understand your target audience and use language that they can relate to. From a training perspective, this is called contextualisation.

If you want to make complex information meaningful, then you need to deliver it in a context that is true to life. tweet this

On a blog this means writing content that fits with your particular theme and audience. It sounds simple enough, but it takes practice to get it right.

A good example of this is a personal finance blogger trying to teach someone about how percentages work. It is pretty bland stuff if you just talk about units of tens and hundreds, but if you relate it to how the reader can use the information to shop for discounted items at a store, then you have made it far more relatable to them.

Other good ways to contextualise your content is to reference useful articles, tools and resources. Bloggers tend to do this quite naturally by linking to other content, but there is a reason why readers like comprehensive guides and top lists that do this well. Its because they are being offered more useful information that aids their learning.

The end

The end is where you bring everything back to a single point – the learning outcome. By restating what you have shown the reader you drive home the message and reinforce the parts you want them to remember (even better, it shows that you delivered what you promised, which builds trust).

It is also a really good practice to implement higher order thinking principles and encourage the reader to think critically about what they have learned rather than just allowing the information to wash over them and hope they remember it. Blogs are actually a very good medium for this sort of thing as they enable social learning where your audience (the learners) can interact with each other in the comments.

All you have to do is ask your learner a question, or pose a challenge to make them think further about the message you are trying to convey.

If you can present an engaging story that has well structured, relatable information, then your learner is better prepared to understand and implement it as a result.

How could you better implement a learning based approach?

Image by yago1.com

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One insightful response to The Secret to Developing Content that Appeals to Everyone

  1. Great post! You have to write as if you are talking to one person to better connect with readers.

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