How to help your audience zoom in on what matters

The pace of business and daily deluge of information can make it hard for any of us to know where we should focus our attention next. When we do zoom in on something, if we’re not clear why it should matter or what we’re supposed to do about it, we’re probably just as quick to tune out and move on.

Since people don’t have the time to read at length, interpret information and draw conclusions, it’s up to communicators to facilitate their thinking — to guide them to what matters and help them appreciate the “so what”. If we’re promoting a solution, we need to get right to the ways it’s going to make people’s lives easier. Instead of presenting research findings, we need to spell out the implications.

Be bold
To get to the point quickly, you need to own your topic and address it with confidence. That means a few things:

  • Know your purpose. Be ultra-clear about why you’re communicating and what you want to achieve. Everything you write should be in service to that goal.
  • Think about the reader. Know with certainty why they should care about your message — and tell them directly. Build the piece around that “so what”.
  • Take a position. It’s easy to share information responsibly, but that puts the burden on the audience to figure out where you stand. Step out in front and write with authority. Tell people what you believe. To be credible, that means you have to know your content inside and out.

Do the reader a service
Consider the act of writing content a way of serving the reader: guiding his or her thinking instead of just passing along information. See the difference:

When you own your subject, take authorship and tell the audience what matters, the only work readers have to do is agree with you.