Do you stress a little about writing for your blog? Do you find yourself taking it a little too seriously?
Some of us might have learned this in school. It seems our higher education system can tend to pound the communicator right out of us: The conventional wisdom is that in order to impress people you’ve got to use complexity at the expense of clarity and communication.
The professor who created my career . . .
Picture this: My sophomore year of college, pursuing my degree, developing relationships with all the “right” professors, on the academic fast track — or so I thought.
I had slaved for months over my term paper, handed it over to my favorite professor, and I anxiously awaited his response.
After several days, he called me into his office.
His demeanor didn’t look promising: he was frowning. “I read your paper,” he began.
“And?” I gulped.
“It’s great. (Relief). One problem.”
He continued; “The academic route you’ve chosen will pound the writer out of you and replace it with specialized jargon. I think you should pursue an academic future that encourages you to write more papers like this one.”
I went into marketing, and I never looked back.
Keep it Simple, Earn More Trust
And it looks like that was really good advice I received: Turns out there is a new science called Cognitive Fluency, which studies the effect of simple language on readers.
One of their findings is that simpler statements have more credibility with readers than do more complex statements. It turns out that our brains trust simpler and more familiar things.
And there’s even a way to measure your posts. The “Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test” gives your written document a score that indicates how easy the text is to read.
And if you write in Microsoft Word, after doing a spell check, a box should pop up with your FK score (at least it does in the Mac version). I like to shoot for a readability score below a 7, although a 7.5 is solid.
A Letter to Friends You Haven’t Met Yet
Here’s one approach: what if we thought about our blog posts more like a chat with a friend than like “term papers?”
Think of it this way: Each blog post, each article is like writing a letter – or short note – to all of the friends you haven’t met yet.
When you jot down something to your closest friends, how do you speak? How is that style of communication different than an article you’d write for a journal?
Maybe that’s the tone you want to capture when writing your weekly posts.
Try it out and let us know how it works out for you.