Living in a world where information is at our fingertips and produced at remarkable speed, it’s not surprising we want content-rich communication fast.
Given how easy and efficient the process is now to give and receive information, it’s actually quite difficult imagining what life was like before we had blogs, online resources, and up-to-the-minute news alerts. Thinking about some recent presidential inaugural addresses in fact, I found it interesting to recall some facts about the inaugural addresses of some of our early presidents. Were I able to go back in time, before each uttered the first word of his speech, I would share some good ”new-fashioned” content creation principles.
Keep the tone conversational and informal.
George Washington’s inaugural address took only two minutes, but must have seemed to listeners to last two hours. Consider the following excerpt from his speech and ask yourself how long you’d be able to listen before you’d start tuning him out.
Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month,” he began.
Let’s be honest, blog readers would have clicked off that page long before that interminable sentence had been completed. Whether it’s a generational thing where our attention is less cooperative or perhaps back then people were used to the formality of such words. Regardless, in this day and age, we must be truly mindful of the techniques we utilize to achieve a better sense of engagement. We want to captivate our audience, not bore them to death.
- Exercise “portion control” in the length of paragraphs and limit each post to one central idea with supporting points.
President William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural speech in history. With a talk consisting of no fewer than 8,443 words, he could have benefited from “blog editing”. To put it into perspective, Reagan used 2,400 words in his address, JFK 1,300 words in his, and Obama just under 2,000.
When it comes to blog editing, Robby Slaughter, a seasoned and effective blogger and speaker here at AccelaWork, has one of the most profound techniques called the Double Audience, Double Editing Rule. In a previous post on The Methodology Blog, Slaughter explains this incredibly effective rule of thumb:
It means that for each time you increase the size of your audience by 100%, you need to make an extra pass at your editing process. So if you have a report completed by you and a colleague that is going to be reviewed by your boss and the company president, you should have another person edit the work. That’s because you’re doubling your audience from two people up to four people total.
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Remember that productivity is not about working harder, but working smarter. Efficient, effective communication is judicious and thoughtful. Take time to produce great marketing copy, and take more time as you have more customers. You’ll be glad you made the investment.
While some of us may have the natural ability to share information concisely, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are long winded. Believe me, it’s fairly easy to fall victim to lengthy explanations; particularly when you’re passionate on the topic(s) at hand. That’s why utilizing techniques such as the Double Audience, Double Editing rule is super helpful. Inevitably, it comes down to editing and practice. Yes, it takes practice and a lot of mindfulness to effectively engage your readers without losing them. Get to know your audience. Discover what reels them in, what turns them off and what keeps them coming back. And above all, edit, edit, edit!