Writing as an expert in your field is only partly about who you are and what you know.
I learned that from once being locked in an old wardrobe.
I was 14 years old. My brothers, the culprits, were 12, 10 and 8, and it was a horrible albeit brief encounter that taught me a lesson I will never forget.
It happened on a Thursday night.
Late-night-shopping-night when mum and dad escaped to Sainsbury’s for an hour or two.
“Mary. You’re in charge,” mum shrilled, possibly with glee at the prospect of escaping her squabbling brood for a couple of hours.
“Make sure the boys stay out of trouble,” dad warned, before diving into our White Ford Cortina and speeding away.
‘I’m in charge?’ An interesting notion which I tried on for size.
‘I’m. In. Charge!’ Not only did it fit, it felt AWESOME.
‘I’M IN CHARGE. YEAH. GO, GIRL!’
By the time I had imagined the many ways I would command my brothers to obediently follow orders, I lunged at the eldest of the three, determined to show him who was boss.
“I’M IN CHARGE. MUM SAID. SO YOU BETTER DO WHAT I SAY. OR ELSE!”
He jumped up, squaring me in the face. “Or else WHAT? It-Stick.”
“Yeah! It-Stick,” chimed the middle one.
“It-Stick. It-Stick. It-Sticky-It-Stick,” giggled the youngest.
No prizes for guessing my nickname, coined for my lanky shapeless frame.
They were a formidable bunch. I knew that. Yet in a pathetic attempt at bravado, I mumbled a half-hearted threat to beat them up if they didn’t listen.
Their response was a swift masterfully coordinated attack.
They chased me upstairs and cornered me in the spare room. One opened the wardrobe door, the other kicked me in the butt shoving me in, and all three quickly slammed the door shut.
They even had the audacity to lock it.
It only lasted seconds, but needless to say, it scared the living daylights out of me.
The irony is one of the ways I thought I might be able to get them to do my bidding was to bribe them. As the eldest, only I knew where mum and dad hid the stash of assorted treats: Black Jacks, Fruit Salads, Flying Saucers, Aniseed Twists, Pear Drops, Dollie Mixtures, the lot.
The plan would have worked a treat (pun intended) if only I had the sense to put it into action.
That was, of course, a long time ago but the lesson has never been lost on me.
There might be 101 ways to gain buy-in from your target audience. The best way is probably to speak the language they understand.
Writing as the expert in your field is partly about who you are (The Big Sister, The Boss, The Founder, The CEO, The Whoever), and what you write about (whether it’s a vital message to share, an effortless method to overcome a challenge, a unique way to achieve a goal, or how to help your reader stay out of trouble by getting their chores done).
It’s mostly about putting yourself in your reader’s shoes, and thinking about your content from their point of view.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself while you write:
- Why will my reader care about this?
- Am I really addressing their needs/questions/challenges?
- How do I want this to benefit/affect them?
- What do I want them to do with this?
These questions will ensure you write for your reader.
Like that smorgasbord of pick ‘n’ mix, you’re more likely to engage your reader if you effectively communicate what’s in it for them.