How to Connect with Your Audience: Write Clearly
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
There are many ways to connect with your desired target audience. You can write articles, purchase social media ads, or even network with people who could use your service. You may be surprised to know that successfully connecting with your target audience involves more than just getting your message in front of them.
The reality is, WHAT your message is and HOW you communicate to your target audience is vital — and clarity is an essential part of that.
What do I mean by clarity?
Clarity involves saying what you are trying to say in the clearest way possible. Sometimes our words get in the way of what we are trying to say. In an effort to write well, we end up doing our writing a disservice. The message gets muddy and the people we hope to connect with end up turning away. This is very common and there are simple ways to prevent this from happening.
So, how can you be clearer?
Construct sentences well
In order to communicate clearly, it is important to structure your sentences properly. This means avoiding run-on sentences, using positive constructions, and using the active voice whenever possible.
1. A run-on sentence is a sentence that is too long to be one sentence and should be broken up by periods into two smaller sentences (or sometimes more depending on how long the sentence is).
2. A positive construction is a sentence that uses positive verbs, adjectives, adverbs or a combination of positives. A positive construction is much easier to understand than a negative construction (which is a sentence that uses negatives to convey the message). For example:
Complete your final exam on time to pass the course.
Should you not complete your final exam on time, you will not pass the course.
You can see from the two examples above how the positive construction uses less words to convey the message. This makes the meaning clear and easy to understand by the audience.
3. The active voice is when a subject does an action to an object. The passive voice is when the object has an action performed on it by the subject. For example:
The student knocked on the door.
The door was knocked on by the student.
You can see in the two examples above how the active voice is much clearer and more straightforward with the message.
Choose words wisely
Communicating clearly also involves using plain language principles. When it comes to connecting with your audience, less is more. Be clear by using specific and concrete words, avoiding the use of clichés, and ditching the euphemisms.
1. Specific and concrete words are ones that are not general or abstract. Communicate to your target audience directly and say EXACTLY what you are trying to say. For example:
A number of recommendations need to be made.
In this example, “a number of recommendations” is too general. How many recommendations? The recommendations need to be made to whom? It is better to write the sentence with this missing information to be clear to your audience.
2. Clichés are words that are so overused that they have lost their true meaning. For example, “Cat got your tongue?” or “Read between the lines” are phrases that are overused and as a result, have lost the meaning and effect they once had.
3. Euphemisms are words that are vague or mild. They are often used in place of a word or phrase that is considered too direct. For example:
I was let go. (instead of fired)
He passed away. (instead of died)
I feel under the weather. (instead of sick)
In the examples above, you can see how using the euphemism makes the meaning more vague. In order to connect with your audience, opt for the words that clearly communicate what you are trying to say, even if it feels “too direct.”
As an editor, I look out for the above things in the content that I am editing. I help my clients to follow these suggestions in order to help their writing be clearer. When their message is clear, they communicate and connect with their audience effectively and from there their business grows.
Try these suggestions and see how easily you connect with your audience too!