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Monday, October 29, 2012

Remember that you are an interruption | Katya Andresen, Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

Andresen's column is so accurate that every writer and speaker--not just people in marketing and fundraising--must consider what she says. And we all must follow her advice.

You, your organization, your ideas, your product and your service are not the most significant thing in the world--in the hearts and minds of most people you are trying to reach.

In the language of communications theory, there is always interference between your audience and you as a writer or speaker. People in your audience always have many other concerns, interests and priorities: a deadline at work, a fight with a spouse, a son having problems at school, the 5 o'clock news about another random shooting, a bad cold, the coming Christmas, engine trouble in the car, tonight's basketball game, the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, a favorite book they're rereading, and so on.

In fact, you are likely part of the interference between many people and things that matter a lot to them. Or as Andresen writes, you are likely an interruption.

So, in writing and editing a document of any kind, you must consider those facts.   As I advise under "Your Reader and Your Purpose" in Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide:

Focus on what your reader wants and needs to know. Don't try to say more than you have to. Like you, your readers are bombarded with all kinds of information from many sources. Like you, your readers have much on their mind at home, at work, at school and at play. And like you, they don't have the time and interest to read, understand and act on all the information they get.
So, reading your document is probably not the highest priority for many potential readers. Your readers' needs and wants should influence what information gets the most emphasis in your document. And your readers' needs and wants should influence what information you drop from your document.
My plain-language website provides advice on how you can ensure you are meeting the needs of your reader, while also meeting your needs as a writer. But one key point for organizing your document and your information:
Usually, make your main point easy to find--at the beginning of your document.

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