It's not that difficult to sit down and dash off an article on a topic that you think will interest your readers, especially if it's a topic you know a lot about. It's more challenging to make sure that the language, tone and style of your words resonate with the people you are writing for.
Answering a few quick questions will put you on the right track.
Who ARE your readers really?
Are your readers men or women, or both?
Men and women respond differently to what they are reading. John Grey's book "Mars and Venus in the Workplace", although focused on dating, is full of useful information on how men and women think and behave differently from each other in business settings. I found it really enlightening and it helped me enormously both in my writing and when I'm speaking to business owners.
How sophisticated is your audience in terms of education, interests, values, beliefs?
If you speak to them below their level, they may feel that you are "dumbing them down." If you go above their heads, they'll simply tune you out. The best way to strike a happy medium is to write in an easy, conversational tone. Imagine you're talking to your ideal client over a cup of coffee. Write as if you were having a conversation with her. Then go back and edit.
Do they all belong to a specific industry or type of business?
In that case, it's OK to use industry jargon. Jargon refers to words and expressions that are used in one particular industry. If you are a real estate agent and your audience consists of real estate agents, they will expect you to use industry vocabulary, otherwise it may look as if you don't know your field.
Similarly, while ordinary folks talk about "high blood pressure", if you're a doctor speaking to an audience of doctors, they'll expect you to use the word "hypertension".
Are you writing for a general audience?
Industry terms will run off their backs like water off a duck. You lose their attention because they have no idea what you're talking about; they're too busy scratching their heads trying to figure it out to read any further. Or they'll read on but not understand what you're saying because they missed a key concept. I recently read a piece by a real estate agent where she talked about a Trustee's Deed. Although I could guess at what this meant, I didn't understand it exactly. A one-sentence explanation for the term "Trustee's Deed" would have been sufficient to keep my attention. When you explain complicated concepts in layman's terms, your audience comes along with you.
These are just a few points that will help you determine the level and tone of your articles.
Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.