This post has been submitted by Glen Stansberry.
It’s funny what we can learn in our everyday lives that can help us improve our blogging.
I recently went to Kansas City to see the historic Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, and came away with a feeling that the presentation wasn’t quite put together as well as it could have been. Although I’m grateful to see such an amazing piece of history, I think I could have gotten much more out of the experience had some things been organized a little better.
But my loss is your gain. There are still some things that we can glean from a mediocre museum exhibit that can help your blogging.
Organization is Key
Regardless of what you’re presenting, if you don’t organize it well, the entire presentation will suffer. Case in point: I was looking at one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century! Organization is critical.
For each piece, there was the standard sign above it outlining its significance. But in addition to having to read lots of these signs, visitors were also given a phone-like device that allowed you to listen to many of the items in the collection. Sometimes the information from the signs and the audio overlapped. Needless to say, it was a lot of information to swallow.
Key #1: Don’t overload your audience with too much information.
Use the least amount of words to convey your message, and end the post. Keep it short and keep it sweet. I know it’s sad, but the attention span of the average blog reader is short. I mean really short. Like Danny DeVito short. So write accordingly.
One of the ways bloggers can help their audience is to give them guideposts. They could include:
- smaller paragraphs
- bullet points and numbered lists
- LESS WORDS
By adding these handy little nuggets to your posts, you’ll help organize the text that draws the readers eyes to the most important parts of the post.
Another beef I had with the exhibit is how the presentation was broken down. Instead of telling the significance of the scrolls first, they waited until you were almost done viewing the exhibit before tying in why the scrolls had any historical value.
Key #2: ALWAYS explain your subject matter at the beginning of the post.
In the words of my history professor, “Never underestimate how little your audience knows”. Truer words were never spoken.
Just because you know, doesn’t mean your audience knows. Make sure you effectively explain the background of whatever it is you’re writing about before getting into the meat of the post. Everybody benefits from this: newbies and experts alike.
Many people already familiar with the subject matter don’t mind seeing stuff they already know as a refresher. And if they don’t, it’s not hard to skip ahead because your post is formatted with helpful guideposts, right? ;)
You don’t ever want to make your reader feel like he’s riding the blogger short bus to school, just because he doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Nothing scares away a potential reader like not having a clue as to what he/she’s reading.
There’s nothing like a real-world example to give us a little reminder on how to improve our writing. Don’t write like a bad museum exhibit that throws too much information at the wrong times to the audience. If you can break things down into smaller, digestible pieces, your writing will appeal to those fast-scanning blog readers, causing them to take a second look.
And sometimes that’s all you need to get noticed.
This is the third part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Read part 1 and 2 at How to think outside of the box and develop attention grabbing content and at how to blog with voice and increase community and readership. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity.