What it takes to be on par with your audience
I was a member of the golf team during college. When I think about writing for different audiences, I can often relate it to that experience. As a competitive golfer, you need different clubs, skills and knowledge to be successful on the course. The same is true when writing. Depending on your audience, you have to do things differently so your message plays effectively.
1. Know your audience
Understanding your audience is the first step in developing any form of communication. On the course, it's the equivalent of checking the yardage, pin placement and weighing weather conditions to select the appropriate club. On paper, it's who are you communicating with? Do you know the demographics and interests of your audience? Develop a link between yourself and the audience. To do so, you have to understand the world from your readers' perspective and find common ground.
2. Don't bury the lead
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, chance you have to make an impression on your reader. If you don't grab the audience's attention from the start, it may prevent them from getting to the heart of your message. Burying the lead is similar to shanking your drive, it puts you in a tough position to make par - or to reconnect with your audience.
3. Tone and approach matter
Considering how you will communicate is nearly as important as the message you share. Will this be used as a news release or a blog post? How formal or casual does the tone need to be? Do you want the media to pick this up for tomorrow's paper? Answering these questions will help you engage the right audience and utilize the best platform to communicate your message.
4. Be authentic and transparent
Being authentic is an important part of communication, regardless of whether it's in-person, through written communication or online. This means playing your own game and focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. For me, that equates to playing it safe down the fairway and relying on my short game to make up strokes on the green. In writing, it means using language that mirrors your organization's voice and actions. Keep in mind, business decisions shape the way we are able to communicate. Today, with technology at our fingertips, it's never been easier for consumers to fact-check our statements. That's why it's never been more important to share accurately and timely information.
All in all, practice makes perfect. Written communication is a craft that requires repetition, thought and attention to detail. By keeping these important components in mind, you are already on your way to effective communication.