After a church service, the pastor shook hands with members of his congregation, and one of them commented on his sermon, saying, “Pastor, you are smarter than Albert Einstein.”
The pastor was surprised and flattered by that statement, but he didn’t know how to respond. In fact, the more he thought about the comment, the more mystified he felt. He couldn’t sleep properly for a week.
The following Sunday, he finally asked the member what he meant by it.
“You see”, the man responded, “Albert Einstein wrote something so difficult that only ten persons could understand him at that time. But when you preached, no one could understand you.”
Now, that’s terrifying!
The problem with being smarter than Einstein
Content marketing is the strategy to reach a specific audience with content, educate them to breakthrough their objections and resistance and get them to know and trust you enough to do business with you over time. But you cannot achieve this if your content sounds like an academic textbook.
A lot of people are of the opinion that if you can use words other people find difficult to understand in your communication materials, it shows a sign of intelligence and knowledge. Like the pastor who obviously gave a dry, boring sermon, content that lacks clarity will just be good at getting people to hit the back button on their browser.
Why most website content fail to connect
The story was told of a US Navy Officer explaining to an ordinary listener in great detail how guided missiles work. After the talk, the man congratulated the officer on his brilliant presentation, saying, “Before hearing the lecture I was thoroughly confused about how these missiles work.”
“And now?” asked the officer.
“Thanks to you,” the man replied, “I’m still just as confused, but on a much deeper level.”
The US Navy office knows and probably understands how guided missiles works but explaining it to the ordinary person was a different art on its own. Why?
In my previous article on How the Curse of Knowledge is Secretly Killing your Online Business Effort, I discussed the importance to see things from the perspective of your reader. The problem with the curse of knowledge is that, what you see as a source of insight, the ordinary person may see it as a cure for insomnia.
You already know your business more than your prospect, which makes it difficult to communicate with them at a level they can easily understand.
The cause can be traced down to our schooling system. The emphasis in academic education is rarely placed on communicating an idea simply and clearly. Instead we are encouraged to use more complicated words and sentence structures to show off our learning and literacy.
Instead of teaching us how to communicate as clearly as possible, our schooling teaches us how to fog things up. It even implants a fear that if we don’t make our writing complicated enough, we’ll be considered uneducated.
The reality is that, it’s the other way round. For you to really engage and connect with your readers you must speak in a language they understand. You don’t impress anyone by using jargons to make your point.
How to focus on clarity
Your line of business or industry may be complex, but your job as an online content publisher, is to bring clarity to a subject, not complexity. Making things easy is a skill, and it’s a necessary one if you want to connect with people online with your content.
Being simple is hard work. As Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, “To be simple is to be great”. Great communicators leave their audiences with great clarity. Bad ones more often than not leave them confused.
Before you publish the next content, remember - it’s not about you, but about your target audience. If they don’t get it, it’s simply not worth it. By keeping in mind that it’s not an academic writing contest, rather an attempt to make your subject easily understood by your prospective customer/client, you will be inclined to focus on clarity.
How to make your web content connect
To make your content engaging and worth reading
- Start with an attention-grabbing headline
- Make it genuinely useful and focused on problems readers care about
- Use stories, analogy, metaphor to make an associated connection between something cool and an important topic that might otherwise be pretty boring. Not only does this attract and hold attention, it also aids in comprehension and retention for your audience, which in turn increases your subject-matter authority with them (because they actually learn something)
Your brilliant communication style isn’t helping anyone. Aim to communicate in a style that connects with your reader.